An Independent Guide to Britain’s Preserved Railways
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The First Preserved railway in the World

Having faced potential closure in 1950, the 7¼ mile narrow gauge (2' 3”) Talyllyn Railway was saved by a group of enthusiasts and became the first railway in the world to be operated by volunteers. But 85 years earlier it boasted two other firsts.

Brief History

The Talyllyn Railway was primarily built to transport slate from the quarry at Bryn Eglwys, east of the village of Abergynolwyn, to Tywyn where it would connect with the national standard gauge (4' 8½”) railway network.

Much of the land needed was acquired by negotiation and work on the line began. However, some small parcels of land could not be acquired so an Act of Parliament was applied for.

Compared to some of the Welsh narrow gauge railways, the route was relatively straightforward. The line threads its way along the south side of the River Farthew valley, for much of it's length sitting on a shelf on the hillside with a ruling gradient of 1 in 60. The only major engineering work required was the viaduct at Dolgoch.

The statutory railway ran from Tywyn Wharf station to Abergynolwyn, the mineral extension east to Nant Gwernol at the foot of the quarry inclines was only used for slate.


Attractions and Facilities

What is there to see and do along the way? Here's a summary:



A daily steam hauled passenger service is provided from April to October and over the Christmas and New Year holiday. Services are also provided on certain other days, refer to the Talyllyn Railway website for full details (see link below).


The Talyllyn Railway still has it’s two original locomotives together with four other steam locomotives acquired and restored or built since the TRPS took over operations. The current steam locomotive fleet is now as follows:

There are also a few diesel locomotives for use on engineering trains.



Since the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society took over, the railway has been fully restored and the track, structures, locomotives and stock are all in excellent condition.


The map below shows the location of all the stations on the Talyllyn Railway and Tywyn National rail Station, click on any of the markers to see the station name and postcode (where known). Use the zoom and pan tools to explore the map.

Getting there

By train - Tywyn main line station on the Cambrian Coast line between Machynlleth and Aberystwyth is approximately 300 yards from the Talyllyn Railway's Wharf Station - leave the station via the car park and turn right.

By bus - Buses are operated by Bws Gwynedd, Relevant bus routes are

See the link below for Bws Gwynedd information on the Gwynedd council website.

By car - The car park at Tywyn is on Ffordd Neifion, off the A493 a short walk from Wharf station. Car parking is also provided near Dolgoch Falls and Abergynolwyn stations off the B4405. See the map above for details.



Headquarters Address:



Talyllyn Railway Company,
Wharf Station,
LL36 9EY

01654 710472

Map | Getting there | Attractions & Facilities | Operation| Brief History | Review | Links

Talyllyn Railway at a Glance

Type: Preserved Railway

Gauge: Narrow, 2’ 3” (686mm)

Length: 7¼ miles

Stations: 7

First opened: 1866

Closed: 1950

Re-opened in preservation: 1951



I visited the Talyllyn Railway in 2008 whilst on holiday in Snowdonia. We arrived with plenty of time to spare so that we could have lunch in the King's Licensed Café, look around the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum and browse in the Railway Shop.

We bought our tickets on arrival which turned out to be a good thing as quite a queue had formed shortly before the train's departure. It's surprising how many people were using the railway in October!

The 7¼ mile journey to Nant Gwernol takes about 55 minutes with delightful views over the River Farthew valley towards the peak of Cader Idris and through the woods past Dolgoch Falls.

Upon arrival at Nant Gwernol the locomotive runs around the train on the loop for the return journey. The train departs for Abergynolwyn about 10 minutes later, the locomotive is then uncoupled for watering.

The train waits at Abergynolwyn for half an hour so there's time for a cuppa in the The Quarryman's Caban Tea Room. The journey from Abergynolwyn back to Tywyn Wharf takes about 45 minutes, a few minutes quicker in this direction as it's downhill!

We had a very enjoyable day out, it was especially good to see the railway after reading so much about it in Tom Rolt's book. We will definitely be returning.