Gulbene is the terminus of the remaining service that operates on the 750mm gauge 215 km line between Stukmani and Valka, which was opened in 1903. Most of the line has been closed, but there is a regular service, usually of two daily trains, over the 33 km of track between Gulbene and Alūksnes. A single journey takes about 1½ hours. Trains consisting of carriages made in Russia and Poland are hauled by Russian-built diesel locomotives but a steam locomotive is also regularly employed. This is No Gr-319, an 0-8-0 called Ferdinands, built on an order from the USSR by Orenstein & Koppel at Babelsberg in the former DDR in 1951. This is the only narrow gauge railway in the Balkan states that continues to offer regular passenger services.
Visitors, whether individuals or groups, are offered a variety of experiences. The forest and lakeside scenery through which the line passes is particularly attractive. The station at Gulbene is a distinguished two-storey building of nineteen bays in the neo-classical style designed in 1926 by Peteris Feders (1868-1916). Visitors are welcome to visit the adjacent depot and workshop where they can see both broad and narrow gauge tracks, and an unusual dual gauge turntable. They can also experience re-enactments of the time when Latvia was part of the USSR with aggressive border guards demanding travelling papers, and can also see a luxurious parlour carriage once used by the Communist leaders of neighbouring Estonia.