The Ffestiniog railway is about 15 miles (24 km) long and travels between the towns of Blaenau Ffestiniog and Porthmadog. The line travels through spectacular mountainous scenery and has a track gauge of 1 foot 11 inches (585 mm).
The Ffestiniog railway is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Wales.
The Ffestiniog railway was originally constructed in the 1830s to transport slate from the inland town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, to the coastal town of Porthmadog where it was loaded onto boats. The railway was initially horse drawn, until the 1860s when special fairlie steam locomotives were built to operate the line. The Ffestiniog was also the first narrow gauge railway in Britain to transport passengers.
By the 1920s the demand for slate as a roofing material dropped, due to the advent of newer roofing materials. As a result, the railway suffered a gradual decline in traffic.
The line went bankrupt and was abandoned in the 1940s. For a number of years it lay derelict. In the early 1950s a group of volunteers took over the line to run it as a tourist attraction, and gradually restored the line to working order. This was not helped by a decision by the electricity authority in the mid 1950s, to build a dam, and create a reservoir, which flooded part of the northern end of the line. Years later, a new diversion route was built around the reservoir by volunteer labour.