North West Wales

Pedal-power velorail trains set for Blaenau Ffestiniog

Trials have taken place using a pedal-powered train on a disused rail line in Gwynedd as a way to boost tourism.

Communities First group Antur Stiniog wants to reuse an old line from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Trawsfynydd.

The group has brought in a pedal-powered carriage called a velorail, commonly used in Europe to start tests.

It is part of Antur Stiniog's plans to use old quarries and countryside as a hub for outdoor sports.

It is due to complete five mountain bike trails around the area in July with more in the pipeline next year.

Training is being given to locals to become walking guides as well as in canoeing, cycling and other outdoor sports.

£4m investment

The group tested its imported velorail on Friday after local people, including school children, have spent time clearing a section of the disused line.

Blaenau Ffestiniog is one of four locations forming the Eryri centre of excellence in outdoor activities.

Image caption Community clearance days have been held to remove vegetation from the old rail line

A visitors' centre is to be built in Llechwedd and plans include a cafe, conference facilities, a bike workshop and areas for cyclists to shower and wash their bikes.

It is part of a £4m investment by Gwynedd council and the Welsh Assembly and includes improving facilities at the Coed y Brenin biking trails, Glanllyn water sports centre and fishing at Trawsfynydd Lake.

Ceri Cunnington from Antur Stiniog said the group had received the go ahead in principle to lease the line, but first had to remove vegetation before the trials could start.

There is no firm start date but Mr Cunnington said it was hoped to have the project up and running by summer 2012.

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