The Mid-Norfolk Railway (MNR) can confirm that together with a number of partner organisations, is part of a consortium that has applied for Government funding to conduct a feasibility study into the restoration of a regular passenger service on the line.
The Consortium, of which the MNR is a member, submitted one of the 50 applications that has recently been announced by the Department for Transport that will now be reviewed.
The Mid-Norfolk Railway Consortium, in addition to the MNR, also includes Greater Anglia, Norfolk County Council, Breckland Council, and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.
“This bid is for Government money to conduct a feasibility study into the practicality of reopening the line from Dereham to Wymondham to restore a regular passenger service on the line and then onward to Norwich.” Let me be clear however as the Chairman of the Trust Council, we are not seeking to handover our railway to Network Rail, so that a Train Operating Company such as Greater Anglia can run a daily passenger service, rather we want to explore how the MNR can develop in the future for the good of the local community. We fully intend to maintain our heritage roots”. Charlie Robinson, MNR Chairman
The Mid-Norfolk Railway has restored a significant part of the former line that was originally built between 1847 and 1857 by several railway companies that ran from Wymondham to Wells next the Sea. The last passenger service ran from in Dereham to Wells in 1964 and the last passenger service from King's Lynn via Dereham to Norwich ran in 1968.
The line remained open till 1989 for goods traffic and was then closed to traffic. As such the closure of the line was nothing to do with the Beeching cuts and indeed, the Beeching Report recommended that the line all the way to Kings Lynn should be retained.
The MNR has now successfully refurbished the line from Wymondham to just short of North Elmham. The railway is also actively working to relay track to County School station. The MNR owns the track bed between North Elmham and County School station which has already been restored.
Currently the railway is working to reopen for heritage passenger service when it safe to do so, so that Covid-19 precautions can be met. The railway has however continued to see rail operations during the Covid-19 shut down with Greater Anglia, DRS and GB Railfreight all running over MNR tracks for a variety of reasons.
“The operating model for the railway has always included working with commercial partners to extend the use of our tracks, such operations are a key part of how we run the railway and as such contribute to our income that allows the heritage side of the operation to function. Joining the consortium to seek funding for a feasibility study therefore is a natural development for the railway.” George Saville, MNR General Manager