Anniversary in Latvia
The most popular heritage railway and tourist attraction in Baltic countries – Gulbene-Aluksne Narrow Gauge Railway or BANITIS celebrate 120th anniversary since opening this railway line. The celebration will take place on 1-2 September 2023 including BANITIS Festival followed by the international conference under the tittle “Preservation, revitalization and cultural tourism of the railway’s industrial heritage in the context of regional development.” Organizers of the event are Gulbene and Aluksne regional Councils as well as heritage railway operating company “Gulbenes-Alūksnes Bānītis” LtD
The celebrations are due to be attended by the Minister of Transport and other representatives of Latvian government as well as by delegates from Great Britain and elsewhere, including the President-Emeritus of Fedecrail Mr. David Morgan.
It should mention the history of the Gulbene-Aluksne Narrow Gauge Railway (GAR) goes back to turn 19/20th centuries when Vidzeme Branch Line Company (Liflandskoje obschestvo Podjeznih putej) constructed the Stukmani-Gulbene-Aluksne-Valka railway line which was opened for passenger/freight traffic in 1903. In course of time railway line became shorter – from 210 km to 33 km since 1973.
This heritage railway located in Northeastern part of Latvia is the last operational narrow-gauge line in Baltic countries and is operating by a consortium of local authorities and railway enthusiasts since 2002. This heritage railway having been developed using British expertise as a tourist attraction based on preserved railways in the United Kingdom as well as with assistance from FEDECRAIL.
The small railway with regular passenger traffic between two district centers has become a much-loved tourist destination, attracting visitors on account of its historical rolling-stock, including Gr-319 steam engine, and infrastructure, as well as its heritage value and frequent entertainment activities. Visitors can enjoy the Special Events – Annual Narrow Gauge Railway Festival on the first Saturday of September, as well as Saint Martin’s Day, Christmas, and Easter trips on the board of narrow gauge train.