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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 October 2007, 05:46 GMT 06:46 UK
Indian twin for mountain railway
K1 train at Dolau Gwyn en route to Waunfawr
Eventually it is hoped the railway will run from Caernarfon to Blaenau Ffestiniog
One of Wales' smallest railways is to be twinned with one of the largest rail companies in the world.

The Indian Railway Company's Darjeeling Himalaya line, which opened in 1882, was modelled on the much older Ffestiniog Railway in Gwynedd.

Now officials from India are visiting the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways - which cover a combined 25 miles - as part of a formal twinning.

The Ffestiniog Railway Company said the twinning was a "huge boost".

The two companies hope the partnership will help to preserve the heritage of the railways here and in India.

Indian Railways own and manage a number of lines, including the 53-mile long Darjeeling Himalaya Railway.

It was the first to be granted World Heritage status and marks its 125th anniversary this year.

The line was modelled on the Ffestiniog Railway, which celebrates its own significant birthday in 2007 - the company was founded 175 years ago.

Dr John Prideaux, chair of the Ffestiniog Railway, said: "This twinning, with one of the world's largest railway companies, is a huge boost.

"It's quite a tribute that people are willing to travel half way around the world to come here on Tuesday.

Steam train at Caernarfon
The Ffestiniog Railway was founded by an Act of Parliament in 1832

"In the past, we've had many delegations from abroad to see how the railway manages to carry such a load on such a small line - through beautiful countryside," he added.

The Ffestiniog Railway Company runs both the Welsh Highland Railway and the Ffestiniog Railway.

The Welsh Highland line runs for 12-miles from Caernarfon to the village of Rhyd-ddu.

The company is currently re-instating the railway link between Caernarfon and Porthmadog.

By Easter 2009, the company hopes people will be able to travel from Caernarfon through to Blaenau Ffestiniog, on almost 40 miles of narrow-gauge steam.

The Ffestiniog Railway is said to be the oldest independent railway company in the world, being founded by an Act of Parliament in 1832.



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