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Water Railway




Open all Year Open all year



The Water-Balanced Railway

Centre for Alternative Technology - Corris 

Approaching the Centre from the nearby town of Machynlleth you are rewarded by a superb view of the cliff railway blended into its setting, with its distinctive 'upper station' peering out over the beautiful wooded valley like the prow of a great ship.

A pioneering project in itself and a unique feature in Europe the railway is an excellent introduction to the realms of sustainable technology.

Instead of a steep climb up to the displays of the Centre for Alternative Technology, visitors can sit back and take in the magnificent panoramic view which unfolds as they are lifted to the top station. You can reach the Centre with a sense of excitement, ready to experience more examples of sustainable technologies. The experience begins when you are welcomed at the bottom station. This is an impressive building in its own right, constructed over a rushing mountain stream. When a carriage arrives from the upper station, water from the ballast tanks splashes into an adit below. Any descending passengers disembark and upwardly mobile passengers file into the carriage. The doors and gate are secured. There is a pause while the two carriages are weighed - and enough water is let into the ballast tank of the top carriage to outweigh the bottom one. The brakes are then released, a bell rings, and the slow, steady ascent begins.

As the carriage ascends, the majesty of the valley becomes evident. Trees give way to a broader panorama of the Dulas valley and the stark, twin peaks of Tarren y Gesail. Passing its descending twin, the carriage steadily rises until the thick, oak supporting legs of the upper station herald the end of the journey. Take the time out now to walk to the balcony of the top station and appreciate the view before beginning your exploration of the displays. It would be difficult to imagine a more stimulating way to enter the site - and such a pleasant way of experiencing sustainable technology in action.

Operation of the railway

The railway has two carriages linked together with a steel cable, so that when one goes down the other is pulled up. Each carriage has a water tank at the front. When people need to go up or down on the railway a computer controlled system allows water to flow through a pipe into the tank in the top carriage until it is heavy enough to pull the other one up. They are then allowed to move. To stop both carriages accelerating up and down and crashing, they are slowed down by a system that stores the energy of braking by compressing gas in cylinders. This energy can then be used to pump some of the water back uphill. In the winter, when the railway is not running, or when there is plenty of water, it goes down a pipe and runs another (4 kilowatt) turbine below the car park, a further 45 metres below.



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