Closed railway lines in Norfolk could be restored
- Credit: Ian Burt
Attempts to bring two stretches of Norfolk railway back into full working order have taken a further step forward.
Bids have been lodged to reopen lines between King’s Lynn and Hunstanton, as well as Wymondham and Dereham, as part of a nationwide restoration scheme overseen by the Department for Transport.
The process has seen MPs and local authorities apply for a share of the Restoring Your Railway Fund, aimed at developing proposals to build or reintroduce railway lines and stations.
A significant number of the facilities were closed during the Beeching cuts of 1963, which saw Britains’s railway network dramatically reduced.
Proposals from 50 bidders across England and Wales will be considered by an expert panel, with an announcement on the successful projects expected later this summer.
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And two lines which were once key to Norfolk are now vying for the potential cash boost, which could help revitalise rail travel in the north-west and centre of the county.
The push to reopen the King’s Lynn to Hunstanton line has been overseen by James Wild, MP for North West Norfolk, campaigners Hunstanton Rail Group and county councillor Andrew Jamieson.
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“The train has not quite left the station yet, but this is certainly an exciting project,” said Mr Wild. “It has been discussed for a long time, but I think now is the time to take this forward.”
“Potentially this could really help north west Norfolk and the coast. It is an area with an elderly demographic but, if you bring back better train links, it opens up so many opportunities.
“There would be wider employment benefits, you’d taking some of the traffic off the A149, and the line could even link to King’s Lynn’s port and the docks.”
The Beeching cuts saw the then-British Rail chief, Dr Richard Beeching, identify more than 2,000 stations and 5,000 miles of railway line fit for closure.
Widespread protests followed, but most of the infrastructure was shut as planned.
Originally built in the 1860s, the King’s Lynn to Hunstanton line set the seaside resort on course to become a booming tourist destination.
It escaped the Beeching cull but, as car ownership grew during post-war years, passenger numbers declined and the railway was closed in 1969.