Railway services to expand

Railway services in Mid Norfolk are set to quadruple under plans by a county train firm - from one every two hours to two an hour along an 11 mile preservation line.

Railway services in Mid Norfolk are set to quadruple under plans by a county train firm - from one every two hours to two an hour along an 11 mile preservation line.

Mid Norfolk Railway (MNR) has run a service from Dereham to Wymondham since taking over the line in 1997 after it was closed by British Rail.

But it has been restricted to only running one train every two hours on what is effectively a siding because the entire line has been single track since 1965.

Now it has launched a £50,000 appeal to help pay for plans which will bring major improvements to their operations, though the reconstruction of a passing loop and restore a second platform at Thuxton near the centre of the line.

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This will pave the way forward to allow two trains to operate at the same time, effectively quadrupling the service on the line, and enable organisers to hold events like steam galas.

“For the first time in 10 years the Mid-Norfolk Railway can seriously look at the possibility of steam galas, visiting charter trains on operating days and driver experience on spare train paths,” said MNR commercial manager Graham Moates.

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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, where the passing loop will be created.

It is planned to be fully operational by 2010 and it is hoped it will increase mainline train companies' interest in visiting the line and using its facilities, as well as their own services.

But it means the railway has had to find a signal box, nine signals, 20 panels of track, 1,000 tonnes of track ballast, three sets of points metals, three sets of point timbers and three point motors.

Most of the cost, £13,000, will be for pointwork and ballast, at £12,000. Another £10,000 will cover the cost of rebuilding the signal box, £10,000 will pay for modifications to the platforms and the level crossing, £3,000 for signage and £2,000 for signalling.

Plans to branch out from Dereham northwards to Hoe are also making progress but the railway needs more sleepers to relay track left to rot since 1989 when it closed.

The MNR wants to extend its line, which currently stops at Dereham, north to County School and ultimately to Fakenham.

To refurbish the track it is running a sponsor a sleeper appeal.

Their first target is 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.

They are also appealing for volunteers to help carry out the work.

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 either project can email volunteer@mnr.org.uk.

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