A Norfolk railway which thousands travel on every year has announced a restructuring with a new acting chairman.

Mid-Norfolk Railway Preservation Trust (MNR) has appointed James Oakley as acting chairman, replacing Graham Watts.

As well as Mr Oakley's new role, there have also been some resignations at the railway as it looks to get “itself fit for the future.”

Mr Oakley will hope to carry on the momentum from the conclusion of the 2023 season, which saw the most successful Polar Express train ride to date.

It saw 93 trains run in November and December, with more than 47,000 people coming onboard the Polar Express, which includes children not occupying seats. The furthest travellers came from New Zealand.

Dereham Times: The Mid-Norfolk Railway's Polar ExpressThe Mid-Norfolk Railway's Polar Express (Image: Archant Norfolk 2017)

The new acting chairman has nearly 22 years of experience working for mainline train operating companies including in a management role, and has volunteered at MNR for 14 years.

He said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank our previous chairman Graham and those employees who have recently left the railway for everything they have done.

“Their dedication and commitment have helped us get to where we are today and we will miss them sorely. Everyone at the MNR is actively engaged in moving the railway forward and is focused on returning trains to Wymondham Abbey.

“We also have many other exciting plans, including the return of Polar Express in the upcoming year, more details will be made available on our website.”

A statement from the railway added: "The railway is expanding and moving far beyond its pioneering days into a multi-million-pound undertaking, the MNR has been working through a restructure and change management process to help get itself fit for the future.

"Some parts of this process have been very difficult and, in recent weeks, there have also been a number of high-profile departures. This has included some employees, the previous chairman, Graham Watts, and a trustee."

Mr Watts was announced as chairman of the MNR in June 2023, replacing outgoing chairman, Charlie Robinson.

Dereham Times: Graham Watts, former chairman of the MNR Preservation TrustGraham Watts, former chairman of the MNR Preservation Trust (Image: MNR)