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WHR NG87 Caernarfon station.jpg
87 waits for the off, May 2009.
Type Terminus Station
Status Open
Latitude 53:08:16.88N
Longitude 04:16:23.34W
Grid reference SH480625
1997 WHR Station opened
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Coordinates: 53°08′17″N 4°16′23″W / 53.13802°N 4.27314°W / 53.13802; -4.27314

Caernarfon is the the northern terminus of the modern Welsh Highland Railway. It is a distance of approx 39.44km (24.5 miles) from Porthmadog.[route 1][wikipedia 1]


Caernarfon from Caer yn Arfon or y Gaer yn Arfon meaning "(the) fortress in the land opposite Anglesey" lies at approximately 5m (16ft) above mean sea level (OS datum) on the estuary of the Afon Seiont (hence the Roman name Segontium, as with Kanovium on Afon Conwy and Deva on the Dee). The most prominent feature of the town is the large castle designed by the master mason (= architect) James of St George for his client King Edward I from 1283. The octagonal towers and the horizontal sandstone stripes on the walls are said to have been built to make the castle resemble the Theodosian Wall at Constantinople, because an ancient legend had it that the Empress Helena was born here and married the emperor of Rome; their son Constantine built the city named after him. The tale may or may not have been true, but at the time it was - and by some still is - believed.

WHR Station[edit]

Looking towards the Castle, just after opening in 1997. St Helen's Road runs between the wall and the de Winton buildings, just visible on the left
From the platform, and underneath the pedestrian bridge at Caernarfon Station showing 3 different number sets
1 = Bridge 1 on the railway - probably numbered back in 1997
WHR 20 = notional kilometre distance marker - starting at 20 removes similarity with FR numbers
OB 20.00 = using a standard system for locating structures on the line

The current northern terminus of the reconstructed Welsh Highland Railway is on the former standard gauge LNWR trackbed at the south end of the tunnel beneath the town centre. The tunnel has been adapted to serve as a relief road. The SG formation in this area was wide enough for double track; it carried the parallel lines for the branch from Caernarfon to Llanberis and the single line southwards, through Dinas, towards Afon Wen. The addition of a platform means that there is only room for a run-round loop at the WHR station, rather than the more usual sidings for spare carriages and services that might be expected. The station building remains a wooden semi-permanent structure, though the initial - very frugal - provision of 1997 was improved and expanded in time for the 2004 season. The station stands almost under the shadow of the famous Caernarfon Castle, adjacent to the historic slate quay once served by the Nantlle Railway and just across St Helen's Road from the historic buildings that once housed the de Winton works. The station is now undergoing a major redevelopment as is the slate quay site.

The loop has been extended to hold ten carriages, but is the shortest loop on the line.

Rheilffordd Eryri leaves the platform end on a sharp gradient of 1 in 48, climbing past the Llanberis branch junction, over the twin-span viaduct (designed by C. E. Spooner about 1867) over Afon Seiont. It then joins the alignment of the Nantlle Railway at Coed Helen, crossing and recrossing this 1828 line on the way to Dinas. It is thought that this section of railway may be the only line in the country which has run passenger services on three gauges - 3ft 6in (1828-67), 4ft 8½in (1867-1969) and 2ft (1997 onward). The southern end of the station was modified to extend train capacity to ten carriages in late 2005.


For many years, the portacabins providing the facilities at Caernarfon have been seen as inadequate, and not befitting of the major starting point of a world class railway. Various plans have been made by various architects to improve the station.


In the summer of 2015, an article here described what is so far the latest of the plans for the redevelopment of the station, which could rebuild the station by early-2017. Estimated to cost around £2m, and as part of a redevelopment of the local area, the station will be built on existing land (including the car park). It is expected to safeguard existing jobs and create a minimum of 2 new jobs. Facilities will include a ticket office, a gift shop, toilets, catering facilities, and several display facilities, spread over two floors. Many of the suggestions made by the locals at consultation meetings were incorporated into the design.

2016 & 17[edit]

The redevelopment plans picked up in pace. The WHR gained almost £1m from the European Regional Development Funding, with a further £500,000 possibly coming from the Vibrant & Viable Places Fund. The remainder of the cost would be paid for by support from the Welsh Government and the rest by the railway. It was said that the relocation of the sewer underneath the temporary buildings would take place in the winter of 2016/17.

To enable the sewer relocation the headshunt was lifted and the station closed over the winter, with seasonal trains beginning at Dinas station. The site of the new station was cleared of the old buildings.

For the main 2017 season part of the headshunt was relaid to allow the station to reopen. The shop and booking office were relocated to the building formerly inhabited by age concern near the southern end of the station. The steps at that end of the platform were refurbished to provide access. The toilet block from the old station was reinstalled adjacent to the temporary booking office.

Work clearing the new site took longer than expected due to the discovery of some unexpected services below ground. However by August work had begun on the station foundations.

When complete the the new station will have a longer loop allowing twelve carriage trains to be run compared to the current maximum length of ten.

Car Park[edit]

Due to the construction of the new station buildings, there are no longer any standard car parking places in the station itself. However, there are a limited number of disabled parking spaces adjacent to the temporary booking office. There are extensive car parks on the Slate Quay (400 yards/m) and on the north side of the walled town, half a mile (1km) away. The easiest approach on foot is from the Maes or Castle Square in the middle of the town along Segontium Terrace (NB - not near the Roman fort of Segontium!) 200 yards/m and down the footbridge to the station.

Company Access Statement[edit]

For general details see here
This is our main terminus station situated close to the castle. We recommend that you start your journey from here.

Please be advised that due to the construction of the new station, access is subject to variation - please contact the railway in advance if this may be an issue.

The booking office / shop are accessed via a gentle ramp. There is a drop off point by the car park entrance. There is a low level counter. The ladies’ and gentlemen’s toilets are situated behind the main building. There is also an accessible toilet with baby changing facilities situated inside the shop within the main building.

There is a car park beside our new premises for the use of disabled or blue badge drivers. The building has level access, with automatic / 'push-button' sliding doors. There is a dropped kerb crossing of St Helen's Road outside the building. Unfortunately, due to site restrictions, we cannot provide ramped access onto the southern end of the platform - so the accessible route involves the use of the pavement to reach the original path onto the station. We realise that this is far from ideal, but due to the works on our new building and improvements to the Caernarfon waterfront, there are limited options available to us. The platform is accessed by a gentle ramp.

Approaching St Helen's Road overbridge on the outskirts of Caernarfon. BWH

See also[edit]


External links[edit]