Access To The Railway

Car Park

car park

Entrance to the main car park is off the main High Street through Porthmadog adjacent to the main line Railway Station on level ground, although there is no pedestrian crossing.

The car park has several widened spaces designated for disabled parking located nearest the station buildings and next to the designated paths. The surfaces are tarmac leading to block paving suitable for wheelchairs and most walking aids. The main station building is easily visible from the car park and after a gentle slope there is a wide tarmac surfaced bridge. From here the way is level straight through to the platform, which is also level and surfaced with compacted gravel with concrete slab edging. This surface is suitable for wheelchairs and most walking aids, however we would advise extra care be taken especially with the elderly and children as the top surface can be loose in parts.

Ticket Office & Shop

car park

Just before reaching the platform, approximately 50 yards from the car park, you will come to the main building on the left hand side. This comprises of two parts; the Café and the Shop. The Café has a wide door suitable for wheelchairs leading into a porch, once inside there is a ninety degree turn to the right that takes you into the main serving and seating area through double doors that can both be opened by staff if required. Inside the chairs and tables are movable to accommodate the need for some individuals who require more space (i.e. wheelchairs) the staff are friendly and always on hand to help.

Proceeding to the shop; tickets for the train and many gift items can purchased as well as our extensive range of books. Access is through double doors that are always open fully when the trains are running. Inside, the room is large and spacious, guide dogs are welcome, as they are throughout the railway, and all dogs are welcome on the train. Inside the Shop there are many interesting items for sale that could be out of reach for many people; the staff will be on hand to help and they will have access to steps etc if necessary.

For those with limited mobility, the railway has two wheelchairs which are available for loan for free. One is stored in the café porch, the other in the guards van. Visitors should ask a member of staff if they wish to borrow one of these.

Toilet Facilities

Just behind the shop, on the way to the platform where the train departs, can be found the toilet facilities in a small separate building. These comprise of two toilets, both unisex, the one on the left hand side includes disabled facilities and baby changing facilities. Access to this building is over level ground at the same level as the platform and the shop/café complex. The surfacing is large concrete slabs similar to those edging the platform and is suitable for most walking aids and wheelchairs.

Railway Carriages

Wheelchair access into carriages is via a ramp

Once tickets have been bought, the visit continues via the train which starts from the platform mentioned earlier, a little further along from the shop. Most carriages are slightly higher than the platform, and require a step up of up to eighteen inches. Visitors should ask the train staff (driver, fireman or guard) for help or advice if needed. One carriage on the train has been adapted with double doors and tip-up seats to allow wheelchair and pushchair access. A ramp to allow wheelchairs to enter this carriage is stored in the guard’s van – please ask one of the train staff if you need to use this carriage. Bulky items such as pushchairs and wheelchairs can also be stored in the guard’s van, a brown coach at the end of the train which has double doors for easy access. If required, the Guard of the train will load any items and retrieve them again when required, the van is locked when unattended and the Guard will ensure any items are secure.

The Journey

The first part of the visit consists of a ten minute train ride through the Snowdonia countryside. The train stops for a few minutes at Pen-y-Mount Halt and then returns towards Porthmadog. Passengers making a return journey do not need to get off here, though they are welcome to leave the train to explore the footpaths through the surrounding countryside and catch a later train. Similarly, visitors are welcome to join the train here – tickets should be bought from the guard as the ticket office is not normally open.

The platform surface at Pen-y-Mount is similar to the other two stations with compacted gravel that may be loose in places. The platform is surrounded by a traditional wire fence and edged with timber that sometimes rises above the level of the compacted gravel; extra care should be taken when near the edges. Access to the station itself is by an unsurfaced footpath which is extremely uneven due to badger activity underground – extreme care should be taken. There is also a kissing gate controlling access to the platform which is unsuitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs.

The Guided Tour

After returning from Pen-y-Mount station again, the train stops at Gelert’s Farm halt for the second part of the visit. This is where passengers are invited to take a guided tour around the works and to see many items of historical interest, with many interesting and informative displays to be seen. This tour is free and optional and lasts about twenty minutes; passengers are welcome to stay on the train or the platform if preferred.

The platform surface here is similar to that at Porthmadog: level compacted gravel that although suitable for wheelchairs and walking aids can be loose in places and extra care should be taken. From the platform, there is a gentle slope towards the display area that the Guard of the train, as your ’tour guide’ whilst here, will lead you down. The surface of the slope and the main designated walking areas are levelled concrete, slightly textured to alleviate the risk of slipping when wet.

Once inside the main shed where most of the displays are, the Guard will give a short introduction to the site including a brief safety statement. There are railway tracks sunken into the concrete here which could trap walking aids and wheels of pushchairs, wheelchairs etc, so extra care should be taken.

Some of the displays are interactive but some involve climbing up a few vertical steps and as such are not suitable for many people. There are lots of places behind and around the displays where small children could be inclined to hide behind/run through. This could be dangerous because there are metal supports to the building and because it is a working environment. Often things might be unintentionally left around that should not be touched, such as tools for instance. If you are accompanied by small children, they must be closely supervised.

Outside the shed there are two areas with more display accessible to the public (front and rear). These are not surfaced with concrete and as such not ideal for those that have difficulty walking or use a wheelchair. They are surfaced with loose material such as slate waste and ash/gravel; there may also be sharp metal objects that are partially buried in the surfaces.

As soon as everyone is back on the train and the Guard is sure that everyone is ready, the train completes its journey to the Porthmadog where passengers are welcome to visit the shop and café once again. Hopefully everyone will have had an enjoyable trip and if more is needed then everyone can go back for another trip because most tickets permit all-day travel.