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New business model to address financial issues

The Mid-Norfolk Railway has announced that as a result of the recently announced management restructure that the business will also now be re-organised with a new business model implemented as a matter of urgency.

The new business model is urgently required as it has become clear that like many other heritage railways the current financial climate means that the revenue that the railway is currently raising does not allow the railway to keep pace with the deterioration of the permanent way. This is an issue that the railway has faced since its creation, let alone carry out the charitable aims the railway has set itself.


The most pressing issue that needs addressing is the permanent way in the vicinity of Crownthorpe Bridge and the also the bridge’s weigh beams. The track and beams must be replaced immediately to allow running to Wymondham as the rate of deterioration has accelerated since the last six month inspection as to mean the bridge and associate track is unusable. In consequence a new emergency appeal has been launched to raise the funding to allow the railway to reopen and carry out a service to Wymondham from Dereham. Donations welcome here.


Despite previously announcing the 4 March as the start of operations, some remedial work and inspections also need to be addressed. The consequence of which is that the reopening will be delayed until such time as the railway is confident that trains can be run. Initially the service will be a 12-mile round trip to Thuxton. New details of the services will be published in due course.


The current Chairman of the Mid-Norfolk Railway Preservation Trust Charlie Robinson said: “The MNR has not been immune to the financial pressures that the sector has been under, our costs have risen dramatically and therefore to achieve the ambitious objectives that the railway set itself when the Trust was set up, we have to pull together as an organisation and find ways to grow the business so we can raise the funds that are needs not just to stand still, but carry out the projects that have long been aspired to.”


He added: “the railway is a significant contributor to the regional economy and as such we are very aware of our responsibilities to maintain that contribution, but to do so we also ask for the support of the business community and people of the region to ensure the long term future of the railway.”


Central to the issues faced by the railway is the condition of the permanent way that the railway inherited from British Rail when the line closed. With the end of passenger service on the line in the 1960s, British Railways ceased maintaining the line up to passenger standards (it became a freight-only line until the 1990s) and as such, the state of the permanent way was one of the principle reasons for the total closure, as to rectify the faults was economically not viable.


The new business model means that in addition to the hugely successful Polar Express, new revenue streams must be developed as a matter of urgency. This also means that significantly more working members are needed to allow the railway to grow the business.


Graham Watts, a new Trust Council member, who after a career culminating in being a senior manager in local authority leisure services, has now taken on the railway’s commercial portfolio. He said: “From a commercial perspective the railway has a significant portfolio of activities already, but what we must do is be ruthless in driving our costs down to increase the profit element of the revenue we already generate and introduce new services that grow the business.


“Key to that is also to growing the working membership. We need not just people interested in railway activities but also people with the skill sets any business needs including administration, information technology, marketing, human resources management and many more.”

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The Mid-Norfolk Railway is pleased to announce that the management of the railway is to be restructured with the new arrangements to be put in place for the beginning of 2023. The Trust Council of the

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MNR Press Officer: Peter Singlehurst

E-mail: press@mnr.org.uk   Telephone: 07963935410
Mid-Norfolk Railway, Station Road, Dereham, Norfolk, NR19 1DF

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