Norfolk railway uses stretch of track for first time since 1964

One of Mid Norfolk Railway's trains departs Dereham, heading to Thuxton

One of Mid Norfolk Railway's trains departs Dereham, heading to Thuxton - Credit: Mid Norfolk Railway

A Norfolk railway is rolling back the years to the 1960s as it reopens a passenger service for the first time in more than half a century.

The Mid Norfolk Railway (MNR) has relaunched its running season featuring the first regular passenger service to run north of Dereham since British Railways closed the line to passengers in October 1964.

The new service, which launched on Dereham Day, is part of the Green Diesel Multiple Unit service timetable, which will see two trains a day travel north to Hoe Crossing.

Mid Norfolk Railway chairman, Charlie Robinson. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Mid Norfolk Railway chairman, Charlie Robinson. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown - Credit: Archant

Charlie Robinson, chairman of MNR, said: “I know that there has been disappointment and uncertainty due to our postponed reopening caused by the long-standing engineering issues and the impact of the lost income from the cancelled Polar Express service at Christmas.

“It is therefore important that the railway has decided to relaunch our running season and make it clear we are open, running trains and looking forward with confidence to the rest of the year.

“The MNR still being able to start a new regular service running north from Dereham marks an important point in the railway’s history and is another small step towards the eventual return to County School.”

Mid Norfolk Railway steam engine at Dereham

A steam engine at the Mid Norfolk Railway. The railway runs services between Dereham (pictured) and Wymondham Abbey. - Credit: Mid Norfolk Railway

MNR has also announced that trains are again planned to run to Wymondham Abbey station by July, once engineering works are completed.

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A supplier of coal has also been found which means the Blue Steam service timetable will run with either the resident BR standard Class 4 MT engine or for this year only, the on hire Austerity Tank engine No 22.

The ongoing engineering work will see track maintenance being carried out between Thuxton and Hardingham and also track near Bridge 1675 will be realigned to remove the excessive curves that British Railways introduced when the line was singled.

The Mid Norfolk Railway signal and telegraph team working on resignalling at Dereham station and yard

The Mid Norfolk Railway signal and telegraph team working on resignalling at Dereham station and yard - Credit: Mid Norfolk Railway

Both issues have been long known but had to wait while other higher priorities were addressed in recent years.

Throughout the 2022 season, MNR will once again be running the ‘Breckland Fryer’ fish and chip trains in the evening and afternoon cream tea trains on selected days.

The railway will also continue to run the ‘Kids Go Free’ family tickets. These tickets will be available for all standard days but do not include special events or special trains.

Thuxton bound Pacer 142061 leaving Dereham with operational signalling.

Thuxton bound Pacer 142061 leaving Dereham with operational signalling - Credit: Mid Norfolk Railway