In October 1974 Ffestiniog Travel (FT) ran its first ever escorted rail holiday to Switzerland. When it was first advertised it attracted a lot of attention and became fully booked within weeks. Due to the demand the company put on a relief Swiss trip that operated on the same dates. A total of 70 passengers signed up to the week-long tours and one traveller, Alan Wheelhouse, wrote about it in the 1974/75 winter issue of the Ffestiniog Railway (FR) Magazine.
“If all FR (now Ffestiniog Travel) tours are as good as this, they are to be thoroughly recommended. The holiday was, as all holidays are, only too short. I look forward to joining a similar trip in the future, perhaps next time for a fortnight rather than just a week.”
Based in North Wales, Ffestiniog Travel’s ‘Rail Holidays of the World’ complements and thrives alongside the Heritage award-winning Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways. FT’s unrivalled experience in all rail travel is one of the strengths it can call upon when organising and executing unique worldwide travel plans. Its travel consultants are all keen on travelling by train and some have been with FT since the beginning. They have been arranging railway based holidays for over 35 years, and so are specialists in this field.
Before 1974 Ffestiniog Travel was known as the Travel Agency arm of the Ffestiniog Railway - providing a successful rail ticket only service for people wanting to travel by train in the UK, Europe and Worldwide – this strand of the business continues in force today. The move towards escorted tours was a natural step for Ffestiniog Travel as the passion, knowledge and expertise was already in place and was matched by a growing interest in rail holidays at the time.
As Ffestiniog Travel grew so did the opportunity for travellers to see the world by rail and the demand was certainly there. In 1981 a significant niche began to open up as small numbers of customers approached the company for tailor made arrangements allowing clients to travel independently from one place to another by rail anywhere in the world. This also accounts for a large part of the business today.
Every year FT’s tour programme changes to offer a brand new range of rail holidays together with old favourites in the UK and Europe and to worldwide destinations. The company’s long-established tour leaders and travel consultants research destinations and rail networks to introduce new rail holiday options to those who have a passion for railways or simply choose the train as their choice of transport when exploring the world.
FT is perfectly positioned to offer a mix of escorted tours with the Connoisseur selection targeted at the rail enthusiast and the Grand selection aimed at the leisure traveller who wishes to see the sights by rail where the journey is more about the place, people and culture rather than an historic railway.
Having developed to a point where FT produces a tour programme offering over 30 escorted rail holidays a year, it has remained true to its heritage and continues to provide that essential ticket only service providing people with tickets for UK journeys, Eurostar, Europe and many destinations worldwide. This again demonstrates that Ffestiniog Travel provides a service that is based on up-to-the-minute railway travel knowledge throughout the world.