We very much hope that you are keeping safe and well in these difficult times. It was our intention to contact all our supporters last year but difficulties intervened including a number of family bereavements.
Our aims and ambitions for the Orbital project remain the same as ever and we hope that you will find the attached leaflet of interest. Our immediate challenge is to pay off the outstanding debt on the second section of route we are buying at Holt although of course ultimate success will rely not only on securing the land but also obtaining the necessary approvals from the County Council and the ORR. We have, of course, already bought the first section of track bed opposite the North Norfolk Railway station at High Kelling and have paid about half of the purchase price of the second section. £50,000 is outstanding. We have £25,000 towards this and, therefore, need to raise another £33,000 taking into account interest and legal costs.
The leaflet below gives details of how you can donate, either by a one off donation or by taking out a standing order. The standing order allows you to spread your donation over a period. (Please go to our support page for more details)
This letter is, therefore, an appeal for your support in raising the last funds necessary to secure this further vital section of track bed. We shall be very grateful for any help you can give.
The lockdown has served to emphasize the need for people to help with all the challenges which lie ahead so please let us know if you are able to assist in any way. We particularly need help with the fundamental issue of proving that the railway and a central Holt station can be built on the land alongside the by-pass to the satisfaction of the County Council. Relevant surveying, planning and engineering skills will be of great value. This work is essential if we are to confirm that we will definitely be permitted to build the railway into Holt.
It might be worthwhile reminding ourselves what we have achieved to date:
- Successful professional feasibility studies for the whole route from Holt to Dereham
- Successful professional traffic forecast study for the whole orbital route.
- Purchase of track bed and associated land at Holt and at Fakenham
- Agreement to purchase a second section of track bed at Holt over a period, with a large part of the purchase price paid.
- Restoration of the two bridges at Fakenham
- Interpretation panels on the Fakenham track bed providing public informationabout the railway and our plans
- Substantial work with Fakenham Academy to provide teaching material about the railway and to engage younger people with our project
- Collaboration with Fakenham Area Conservation Team who are undertaking maintenance on the Fakenham land.
- A tour of interested parties from local authorities and other groups to view progress at Fakenham, in collaboration with the Mid Norfolk Railway
- Protection of the route through Holt
- Planning consent to lay demonstration track at Holt
- 4,570 Followers on the Facebook page
As many of you will know, the M&GN Institute at Melton Constable is one of the last remaining buildings of its kind in the country. We have always been grateful to the Institute for allowing us to house our HQ there. In these challenging times it is more important than ever that those of us who care about the railways to support the club and come forward with active help. Let us know if you would like more details.
Some encouraging news – The County Council’s Norfolk Rail Prospectus makes positive reference to a number of potential re-opening schemes. We were particularly encouraged by a reference to Fakenham which states in connection to the Mid-Norfolk’s Wymondham to Dereham line “In the longer-term there is potential for housing and jobs growth at Dereham. Dereham is the fifth largest settlement in the county and the largest settlement not connected by the national rail network (although, the Mid-Norfolk Railway operates privately and owns the infrastructure from Wymondham to Dereham). The next largest settlement not connected by rail is Fakenham, – Feasibility into opening this link to mainstream passenger services in the longer term could be considered. The County Council is currently considering whether it can carry out work in this with that which it is progressing on Kings Lynn to Hunstanton.”
Further on there is a reference to our scheme in particular and it states that the council will endeavour to provide help where it can.
Orbital rail (Wymondham-Dereham-Fakenham-Holt-Sheringham)
Existing private railways operate at either end of this line to Dereham and Holt).The Holt, Melton Constable & Fakenham Railway Co Ltd is pursuing plans to complete the link. This is seen as an independent initiative – as will any other similar initiatives and as such will need to be pursued by independent groups utilising their own funds, although the county council will endeavour to provide help where it can.
We are also keeping a close eye on proposals to utilise former routes for cycling and walking with various routes under consideration. We have pointed out, of course, that if these routes are to be used for this purpose then provision should also be made for the return to the purpose for which they were built – railways.
The Government says that it intends to promote major infrastructure projects in order to help the economy recover. What this means in reality remains to be seen but we shall of course be watching out for any significant opportunities.
We have to state that there is no guarantee that any of our efforts will be successful but some of us are old enough to have been in at the start of what became the railway preservation movement in East Anglia. We did not achieve our lofty aim of reversing the closures at the start of the 60’s but once this pandemic is over there will be trains running again over lines which would otherwise have been ripped up long ago. We are still pioneers planning for the day when railways will again be seen as a vital contribution to the local economy and the environment.
Please reply to
David Bill: Trustee – The Melton Constable Trust
email: mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel 07779 345437