Page last updated at 17:29 GMT, Monday, 2 February 2009

'Unpaid bill' halts new rail link

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The reopening of a 25-mile (40km) narrow gauge railway across Snowdonia is being delayed because a 250,000 bill has not been paid, it is claimed.

The 28m project to reinstate the Welsh Highland Railway between Caernarfon and Porthmadog was due to open at Easter.

Ffestiniog Railway Company says the final link will now not open fully until the summer because it is owed money by an assembly government agency.

The Welsh Assembly Government said it was examining a letter from the firm.

The Welsh Highland Railway, between Caernarfon and Porthmadog, across the Snowdonia National Park has been reopened in stages.

It now runs 12 miles from Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu, on Snowdon's southern slopes.

The remaining sections of the railway from Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog Harbour have been rebuilt over the last four years.

Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway's No 87 engine
The railway line will run from Porthmadog Harbour to Caernarfon

The company said two new stages, Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert, and Beddgelert to a temporary station at Hen Hafod (about a mile south of Nantmor) will be opened in April and May.

But the link to Porthmadog will not open until the summer peak season.

Ffestiniog Railway Company said the delay was due to the firm not being paid by the North Wales Trunk Road agency.

The company said the agency has paid it 70,000 for work it carried out on the agency's behalf in Porthmadog last year but the outstanding balance, some 250,000, has not been paid.

General manager Paul Lewin, said the delay will have an impact on the local economy.

He said: "The official opening had been arranged for July 7th 2009, but now this has had to be postponed.


"We need the funds due from the North Wales Trunk Road agency to complete the work.

"We also had plans to employ three or four new members of staff but these plans have also now been put on hold."

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson said: "We are currently considering the correspondence received from the solicitors for Welsh Highland Railway Construction Limited and will be responding in due course.

"Until then we are not in a position to make any specific comments."

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