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Railway bids to increase services

PUBLISHED: 14:02 01 September 2008 | UPDATED: 14:39 14 July 2010

Rail services at a private line in Mid-Norfolk are set for a major boost.

Mid Norfolk Railway (MNR) is planning to increase services from one every two hours to two an hour on the 11-mile preservation line.

Rail services at a private line in Mid-Norfolk are set for a major boost.

Mid-Norfolk Railway (MNR) is planning to increase services from one every two hours to two an hour on the 11-mile preservation line.

MNR has run a service from Dereham to Wymondham since it took on the line in 1997 after it was closed by British Rail in 1969.

But it has been restricted to running no more than one train every two hours because the entire line has been single track since 1965.

Now it has launched a £50,000 appeal to help build a passing loop half way along the line at Thuxton.

Chairman Roland Terry says it will take the railway on to the next level: "At the moment you have long gaps between trains. Running two trains at once will increase revenue, attract more people and tourists to the line and Dereham and Wymondham and make the line more active and liven up the stations."

For the first time in 10 years it will allow the railway trust to run steam or diesel gala days on the line and give greater flexibility of service.

This will mean people can stop at Thuxton and get another train back to their starting station if they have not got the time to do a full return journey on the line.

It will also allow them to slot in mainline train companies who want to use the MNR's facilities for servicing or training and they could run driver experience days. And Mr Terry hopes it will allow them to have additional freight on the line.

"But we need the money, the materials and manpower so we can move the railway on to the next step," he said.

The move has been helped thanks to the donation of a disused signal box, once part of the Lynn to Dereham line, which will be moved from its former home at the old East Winch station, near Lynn, to Thuxton.

It is planned to be fully operational by 2010.

The MNR also needs volunteers to help carry out the work, some of which will start in October and November.

Plans to branch out from Dereham northwards to Hoe are also making progress but the railway needs more sleepers to re-lay track left to rot since it closed. The MNR wants to extend its line, which currently goes from Wymondham and stops at Dereham, north to County School and ultimately to Fakenham.

To refurbish the track it is running a sponsor-a-sleeper appeal. The first target is to repair the line 3.5km to Hoe, which has just over 4,000 sleepers alone, with 500 needing to be replaced. Each sleeper weighs 80kg and costs £22. People sponsoring 10 or more sleepers will get to be on the first passenger train to Hoe and the first to sponsor more than 50 will get to ride in the cab of the first passenger train.

Anyone who can help with the projects should email volunteer @mnr.org.uk

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