Mid Wales railways named among 'most scenic' routes in Europe

Top Welsh holiday destinations have been named 'most scenic' for European rail journeys.

Ffestiniog Railway, voted the most scenic European rail journey. Photo: Chris Parry
Ffestiniog Railway, voted the most scenic European rail journey. Photo: Chris Parry

Three Mid Wales railways have been named in the top 10 most scenic European railway journeys in customer advice magazine Which?.

Always popular with Shropshire holidaymakers, Snowdonia can now boast of its international acclaim after beating off competition from railways crossing the Swiss Alps and Norwegian fjords.

A survey asked 1,400 railway passengers to rate their favourite rail journeys and each was scored on scenery, comfort, facilities, cleanliness, food and drink, service and value.

The survey saw Ffestiniog Railway, which runs from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog, come out top, scoring 91 per cent.

Talyllyn Railway and the Welsh Highland Railway from Porthmadog to Caernarfon shared sixth place with 86 per cent.

Val Hawkins, chief executive of Mid Wales Tourism, congratulated all three Welsh railways and welcomed the international spotlight on the picturesque region.

She said: "To not only have Ffestiniog Railway recognised as the most scenic rail journey in Europe but also two other railways in the top 10 is fantastic news for the region.

"More visitors are discovering that this beautiful part of Wales has so much to offer as a destination in its own right."

Staff at the Snowdonian railways were thrilled to hear the news.

Clare Britton, commercial manager for the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways, said: "We are thrilled to have both railways in the Which? top 10 against very stiff competition.

"We already know that Snowdonia is a beautiful place, but it now seems Which? readers have arrived at the same conclusion. I think it’s great for Ffestiniog Railway to come out on top because it’s iconic and one of the oldest preserved lines.

“We are also delighted that the Welsh Highland Railway has been recognised because it also travels through the most beautiful scenery.”

The tiny Talyllyn Railway, in the popular seaside town Tywyn, is a narrow-gauge railway which opened for goods traffic in 1865 and passenger services soon after.

In 1951, the operation of the line was taken over by Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society and became the world’s first preserved railway. The line is operated primarily by volunteers, with a small paid staff.

Stuart Williams, the railway’s general manager, said: "We are delighted that the world’s first preserved railway has been recognised as a great attraction for a global audience.

"For a little railway like ours to be named in the top 10 scenic rail journeys in Europe is amazing."

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