Monday, 5 July 2010

Railways of Wales

Well as I discussed in my last post, Wales is a country that has a great deal of rail interest factor. As part of the UK there was a great deal of railway development by various companies during the 19th and early 20th centuries and the legacy of this remains today. Wales also has many tourist or heritage operations, rather like New Zealand, and their number is growing.

One of the interesting tourist lines which is well known worldwide is the Ffestiniog Railway in North Wales which has recently expanded with the reconstruction of the Welsh Highland Railway taking the route through the Snowdonia National Park. Also in the area is the Snowdon Mountain Railway which is an incredibly steep rack railway that climbs to the top of the Snowdon mountain at a height of around 1000 metres. As in New Zealand there are lessons to be learned in the development of tourist-heritage railways. The Ffestiniog / Welsh Highlands case is of especial note due to the long and controversial development history of the latter route in particular. The gist of this is that a disaffected faction from the Ffestiniog society split off and formed its own operation right on their doorstep. It is a bit sad to see this when the Ffestiniog society have done so well, now they have added the Welsh Highland Railway to their impressive list of achievements. My sympathies are entirely with the Ffestiniog Railway who are still dealing with the unfortunate effects of negativity and criticism from the splinter faction.

Notwithstanding any of the above, Wales is the overseas country I would most like to visit in the future for a holiday.