Norfolk Strategic Framework

The Norfolk Strategic Framework (NSF) consultation ran from the 2nd August to the 22nd September 2017 and since then then Norfolk’s Local Planning Authorities (including Norfolk County Council) have been reviewing all comments made, preparing responses and updating the document where this has been deemed necessary. In early January 2018 a new updated version of the NSF was released for public view.

There are a number of documents making up the main NSF to view them all please click here: Norfolk Strategic Framework

Norwich Thorpe Station

In the introduction, the aim of producing the framework is outlined as follows:

  • Agree shared objectives and strategic priorities to improve outcomes for Norfolk and inform the preparation of future Local Plans.
  • Demonstrate compliance with the duty to co-operate.
  • Find efficiencies in the planning system through working towards the establishment of a shared evidence base.
  • Influence subsequent high level plans (such as the Strategic Economic Plan).
  • Maximise the opportunities to secure external funding to deliver against agreed objectives.
Wymondham

The project has been underway for over a year and four working groups have been established to pull together a shared evidence base on housing, employment, infrastructure and delivery issues. The working groups consist of Local Authority staff assisted by other organisations including the Environment Agency, Natural England, Anglian Water, UK Power Networks, Homes and Communities Agency and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.

Attleborough

Here we have a section of the Norfolk Strategic Framework: Transport Constraints covering Rail:

Overview and Summary

The rail network serving Norfolk is sparse: few settlements are connected to the rail network, and the network serves few destinations out of the county. There are two lines from London: the Great Eastern Main Line from London Liverpool Street via Ipswich to Norwich; and the Fenline / Great Northern Route from London King’s Cross via Cambridge to King’s Lynn. (King’s Lynn also has one train per day to London Liverpool Street.) Norwich is directly connected to Cambridge, Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Sheringham; and longer distance services via Peterborough to Liverpool.

Journey times by rail to major destinations outside the county are lengthy: for example it takes nearly two hours to get to London from Norwich, and four hours from Norwich to Birmingham (see Appendix, Figure A7).

Nine of the 21 Norfolk market towns are directly served by rail. Some of the larger market towns are some distance from their nearest rail connection, for example Dereham and Fakenham are both over half an hour travel time from the nearest station (see Figure 4).

Rail provides an important travel choice for commuters into the main centres, albeit only for those with a convenient service available.

Figure 4: Rail connections from market towns

Note: Journey times and distances are car journey times. Source: AA Route Planner

Existing Patterns of Usage
Norfolk has a very limited rail network, meaning that few of its towns are served by rail. Also, the services offered provide a very limited range of destinations and many have only one train per hour. In particular, services to the Midlands and Home Counties are poor. Whilst rail generally provides faster journeys to other major centres compared to road, average rail speeds compare poorly with connections between major centres out of the county (eg York to London) (see Appendix, Figure A7).

Norwich station is by far the busiest of all Norfolk stations. Usage has almost doubled in the past ten years, to over 4 million passengers per annum. The second busiest station is King’s Lynn. The importance of the lines to London is demonstrated by Diss being the third busiest station in the county, and Downham Market the fourth. (See Appendix, Figure A8.) Patronage at Norfolk stations on the King’s Lynn to London line has increased in recent years. Conversely, at Great Yarmouth patronage fell by 5% over the last year, relegating the station to fifth busiest station with around 440,000 passengers.

Whilst station usage has increased dramatically over the last ten years there are signs of the increase levelling off in the last two years. Some lines are reaching, or are at, capacity at peak times: the Bittern Line; services to Cambridge; and London services (Norwich services tend to be full towards the southern, London, end of the route only whereas King’s Lynn services can be full north of Cambridge). In describing lines as ‘at capacity’ it should be noted that this means that the existing trains, at their existing frequencies, are full. However, operators cannot lengthen trains because they do not have rolling stock that can be used and / or the infrastructure cannot accommodate longer trains, for example the platforms are not long enough. Additional frequencies cannot be provided because of – again – rolling stock and / or infrastructure constraints.

A number of stations on rural lines have very low usage – fewer than 100 per annum in the case of Buckenham – which is a reflection of both low catchment areas as well as infrequent services.

The frequency of rail services from Norwich to Cambridge and Peterborough (for onward services to the north and the Midlands), and from King’s Lynn south to Cambridge and London, is limited by infrastructure at Ely. Here, the available track capacity, its layout, and the numbers and arrangement of level crossings restrict the numbers of services that can pass through. Across most of the network journey times are limited by infrastructure including the numbers of level crossings. Only the London lines (to Norwich and King’s Lynn) are electrified; all other services need to use diesel rolling stock. There is a national shortage of diesel stock, meaning that additional services – in the form of higher frequencies – or longer trains cannot be provided. Shortages of stock can also lead to disruption on existing timetabled services in the case of, for example, train breakdowns.

Known rail capacity issues:
As set out above some lines are at capacity. This includes:

Bittern Line from Sheringham to Norwich in peak times. These trains can be full from south of North Walsham in the morning peak coming in to Norwich.

Cambridge to Norwich in peak times.  Again, these services can be full coming in to Norwich in peak times, and also between Cambridge and Ely due to Cambridge commuters.

London to Norwich. These services are full going in to London in the mornings towards the south of the line, and again coming out of London in the evenings. Passengers can have to stand all the way to Ipswich.

Journey times and rail frequencies between main economic centres (within the county and to major destinations outside) Figure A7 in the appendix shows journey times and frequencies to a range of destinations. For business trips, business people need connections to markets and suppliers and – ideally – need to be able to get there and back in half a day (including time for the business part of the trip as well as travel time); although will accept a full day. It can be seen from the table that few destinations offer easy half-day connections with even trips to Cambridge involving 2 hours 40 travel time from Norwich (there and back and excluding any wait time or travel to and from the stations at either end). King’s Lynn to Cambridge, at 45m each way, is more convenient but hampered presently by a frequency of every hour outside of the peak times. Some trips, such as to Birmingham, are difficult even given a whole day (eight hours train travel time (from Norwich) alone).

Within the county out of peak times all services except Norwich to Diss have hourly frequency, which militates against use of the train for business people. Otherwise journey times are reasonable. However, the main issue is lack of connectivity. Only nine of the 21 market towns are directly served by rail. Some of the larger market towns are some distance from their nearest rail connection, for example Dereham and Fakenham are both over half an hour travel time from the nearest station (see Figure 4). Even where towns are connected to rail, there are often no direct connections. King’s Lynn to Norwich by rail for example takes 2 hours 20m because travel involves going via Ely where there is a need to change trains.

The National Travel Survey 2015 shows that the average duration of a commuter journey in the UK is 31 minutes. The following figure shows rail journey times into Norwich, King’s Lynn and Great Yarmouth. This illustrates that, for people living close to or having easy access to stations (and their workplace being conveniently sited for the station), rail provides an important travel choice into the main centres.
Access to airports is covered below in the Access to International Hubs section.

Forecast rail passenger use:

The Anglia Route Study, Network Rail March 2016, looked ahead over the next 30 years. It forecast an increase in numbers of passengers on services into London on the Great Eastern Main Line of over 30% (or 2,200 extra passengers in the peak hour) by 2023 and 75% (or 5,100 passengers) by 2034. The study stated “passengers on these services will be travelling in crowded conditions for a long time. Without intervention, services will be over seated capacity and between 40 per cent and 100 per cent of standing capacity taken up for well over 20 minutes. Services that start from Norwich, Stowmarket, Witham and Chelmsford tend to have the highest load factors and demand is at, or exceeds, seated capacity now.”

For cross country services, including Norwich to Cambridge, Network Rail’s study states that – although there are some issues regarding crowding presently – the main driver for improvement is better connectivity rather than accommodating peak capacity. The study recognises the need for half hourly services on the route. The study also notes that “Kings Lynn to Cambridge [is] also infrequently served; as such, the Route Study investigates the feasibility of improving the frequency of services” to half hourly.

The main barrier to additional Norwich and King’s Lynn to Cambridge services is the capacity for trains through the network at Ely.

The study also recognises the aspirations for half hourly services from Norwich to Sheringham and Great Yarmouth but concludes that there is unlikely to be a business case for these. (End of overview and summary)

Sheringham

It is interesting to note that in this document and  indeed in the framework there seems to be no mention of reinstating former rail routes or developing new ones.  Neither do we see suggestions or discussions to be had with heritage railways to look at options for linking to mainline stations or working with train operating companies.  Should there be?

Dereham

Here is a link to the  Norfolk Strategic Framework document.  In Section 8 – the Conclusions and Next Steps, it states that:

This document is draft.  Comments on it from all those interested in the future of the County will be welcome.  This will inform an amended version of the document which will be considered at the Strategic Planning Member Forum later in the year before formally being considered for adoption by each of the participating bodies thereafter.

Within the section there are also a number of contact details. If you feel you have any comments or views that you would like to make on this document then the first point of contact should be made to: NSF@norfolk.gov.uk

If you have questions on the Norfolk Orbital Railway project then it would be good to hear from you. Contact details are:

David Bill:  d.bill@ntlworld.com

Paul Young: projectofficernor@yahoo.co.uk

King’s Lynn Hunstanton Railway Project – Open Day 2nd December 2017

The King’s Lynn Hunstanton Railway Project Open Day in Hunstanton on 2nd December 2017 was a resounding success. Over 200 visitors attended the event, both families with young children, young adults, empty nesters and the ‘not-so-young’.

Visitors came from all over the country; a few former residents of Hunstanton now living overseas also attended. 138 petitions for a new railway to reconnect King’s Lynn with Hunstanton were signed. Signatories hailed from:

  • King’s Lynn Hunstanton Area – 82 petitions (58% of total)
  • Home Counties – 19 petitions (18% of total)
  • Further afield, ranging from Derby to Bournemouth – 9 petitions (6% of total)
  • Overseas; Italy, Germany, Canada – 3 petitions (2% of total)
  • Petitions signed but without postcode – 25 petitions (16% of total)

Two presentations were made on the day by Bob Edwards, a rail expert on the project team. Railway experts from the team also circulated amongst the visitors throughout the day, explaining technical issues, answering questions about potential rail track routes, car parking for passengers, feasibility studies to be undertaken, funding and the type of railway which will ultimately link properly with the national rail network.

Hunstanton August 1959

Anglia TV were present during the day and conducted 3 on-camera interviews with members of the Project Team. Later in the day, BBC Radio Norfolk attended the event and recorded three more interviews for broadcast. Elaine Bird took photographs for publication in January Town & Around. The event was also attended by Councillors: Andrew Jamieson, Michael de Chenery of Horsburgh and Richard Bird.

Rigil Kent (Chairman) said “I am overwhelmed with the extremely positive response from the public who attended our open day; everybody that I spoke to on the day was in support of our aim to re-establish a line through to Kings Lynn.

The aim of the day was to launch the project to the public officially and to answer any queries that people have to the best of our ability at this stage of the project. The next steps are to raise funds to organise a properly conducted feasibility study to officially ascertain the need, the viability, funding, operation, route and management of the project going forward.”

Next Steps: The Railway Project Group has already set up a bank account and the immediate next steps are to raise funding for a full Feasibility Study to examine all aspects of the proposal including route and rail station options, the provision of car parking, overall costs of the tender and consultancy process, build costs of line options, and its long-term financial viability. The economic benefits to local area businesses and to the communities served by the new rail service will also be examined and quantified.

A petition is also running and if you wish to sign it then please click here: Reinstate train line from King’s Lynn to Hunstanton

For more information please contact Georgina Turner: le_strange_railway@outlook.com

Useful Weblinks:

King’s Lynn Railway

Audio: The Railway Institute, Melton Constable

The Railway Institute in Melton Constable was built by the railway for the benefit of its workers as reading rooms, wash rooms and general recreation until the closure of the railway works in the early 1960’s. At that point a group of local people (and by then) ex-employees banded together and bought the freehold of the Railway Institute from the British Railways board, and formed a trust under the name of the Country Club that endures to this day. The Country Club offers many forms of social recreation to local people, including bar facilities, snooker, pool, a large function hall etc. Importantly we believe that the Railway Institute is one of the very last remaining in the whole country that largely operates as it was intended when it was built in the late Victorian era.

The Melton Constable Country Club (Railway Institute) October 2017

The historical importance of the building was recognised by both the Holt, Melton Constable & Fakenham Railway Company, and the Melton Constable Trust when it chose the landmark Railway Institute to be their registered offices.

Unfortunately as it is a large Victorian building with high associated running & repair costs, coupled with the nationwide downturn in the licenced trade, the building is in very real danger of having to close its doors. If this were to happen then the building would have to be sold, and would likely end up being converted into residential use – robbing the village of its only social centre and arguably the most significant building left from the era of the railway works in Melton Constable.

A concerted effort is now underway to try and save the Institute, and the renowned nine piece Mynx Soul Band have kindly agreed to do a fund raising concert at the Country Club free of charge on Saturday 28th October. Tickets in advance are £8 and are available from the Country Club, by phone on 01263 860555 or email a.loynes@homecall.co.uk.

Donations are also invited to help save this unique piece of railway history, cheques should be made payable to The Country Club, and sent to the Railway Institute, 6 Briston Road, Melton Constable, Norfolk. NR24 2DA.

One of the club trustees, Adrian Loynes recently spoke with Norfolk Orbital Railways Project officer Paul Young and you can listen here:

Mr Frank Morgan was a Railwayman at Melton Constable and worked there for many years. In June 1999 when he was in his nineties, he wrote down his memories of the Railway Institute in 1927.

The Railway Institute circa 1912 and the sign offers Tea, Coffee, Cocoa and Eatables. Photograph from M&GN Circle Archive

Built in 1896 as the Railway Institute and extended in 1912, this building was constructed for the recreation of railwaymen and for the furtherance of education for the apprentices that were employed on the works. After the extension it consisted of six rooms upstairs and 2 rooms and a dance hall and kitchen downstairs, the boiler house, 2 bathrooms and ladies and gents toilets were situated in the yard. A large cellar was situated underneath the 1912 extension.

In those days there was no demand for a lot of storage room and as Boy Scouts we were allowed to store all our camping equipment in there free of charge, until about 1930 when the Institute obtained a licence for selling alcohol. Then we had to find room in the Scout Hall for all the gear as the cellar was then needed for beer and stores. The members money was one penny per week for apprentices and two pence per week for adults. This was stopped out of your wage packet weekly. The staff employed was a caretaker and assistant…..I don’t recall anyone else. They did all the chores, serving at the counter and controlling all that went on including the letting of the baths which cost just four pence per bath. The hot water for the baths was supplied from the boiler which was situated next to the bathrooms. This boiler was also tended by the caretakers and the supply of coal was delivered by horse dray by Messers Attoe and Twiddy coal merchants, this was delivered a ton at a time and had to be carried in Cwt. sacks up the alley alongside the Institute and tipped through a hatch into the boiler house.

The reading room (now the billiard room) was very well equipped . Every daily newspaper was supplied and each was placed on the reading desks in a manner so that you could peruse the whole paper without any problem of slipping pages or any obstruction. The only snag being you had to stand up all the time. the large table in the middle of the room and the bench on the east side had all the books and periodicals of the day and all the seating in the room was of wooden but comfortable arm chairs. A notice hung on the wall stating that audible conversation was not permitted.

The next room was the Committee room, the only time the room was used was for Committee Meetings and as a gents cloak room when there was a dance on in the hall. Next came the Music Room probably so called because it housed a piano and was let to music teachers, was also used for evening classes for apprentices, at one end was a huge glass showcase which housed a large machine all made in wood and operated by a wooden handle, this was also for instructional use.

Next came the Library containing 3000 volumes, this was in the able hands of Mr. Loue Porter, it was only open on Monday evenings from 7 pm till 9 pm and members of the public were allowed to have books but I can’t remember what they had to pay for the privilege. Next came the juniors billiard room containing a 3/4 size table, this was for members 14 t0 16 years of age to learn to play on at 2d per half hour and Monday evenings the table cover was promptly put on by the librarian at 7 o-clock and cards approximately 10” x 8” laid all around the table and book numbers were printed on them from 1 to 3000 as an index and the name of the book. you made your selection from these cards and then studied the chart in the corner of the room and if the book you fancied was in the indicator showed green, if it was out it showed red.

The end room contained a full size billiard table and on reaching the age of 16 you were allowed to use this room and of course play on a full size table. The ground floor consisted of the dance hall which on Sundays was used by the “Railway Mission” and a Service was held at 11 am, Sunday School at 2.30 and another service at 6.30. During the week various organisations used it such as the Choral Society, Evening Classes etc.,

The kitchen was rather crude, containing some rather large ovens which I believe were gas fired. Next the Bar, a small counter which only covered an area of about 6’ x 6’ which only left about 4’ x 4’ for the caretaker to move around in. anyway this sufficed until about 1930 when the licence was granted and then things became a bit cramped but they soldiered on for several more years until it was eventually bought and taken over by the Country Club Committee and made into the nice club of today.

The north wall was a well upholstered seat and faced by 3 marble topped and iron framed tables, This was the only place that chess, dominoes, draughts etc. were played. Through now into the main billiard room which housed the reckoned second best billiard table in Norfolk. When we ‘became of age’ we seldom got the chance to play on it as it was mostly taken up by the ‘Nobility’.

At 10 pm everybody out, doors locked and bolted, gas lamp at the bottom of the yard extinguished, the 2 iron gates chained and locked and that’s it,

This as I remember in 1927 (F Morgan)

Useful Weblinks:

The Melton Constable Country Club

The Mynx Soul Band

The M&GN Circle

Audio: Tree felling at High Kelling by 350 (Sherwood Foresters) Field Squadron

The Melton Constable Trust, the organisation behind the Norfolk Orbital Railway project, own sections of land on the former railway route between High Kelling, Holt and Fakenham. The first stage plan for the land at High Kelling, which is the section of land across the Old Cromer Road from the North Norfolk Railway station at Holt, is to put down a number of track panels, ballast and some rolling stock.

Looking towards Holt Station

This will highlight to local people and visitors that this is railway land and rail is heading towards Holt town. Last year the track bed was raised and has now settled and is ready to receive track, however before work can start some of the trees and overhanging branches required the attention of an arboriculturist (tree surgeon). 350 (Sherwood Foresters) Field Squadron, Royal Engineers part of 33 Engineer Regiment were contacted and they agreed to assist as part of a training exercise.

350 Field Squadron with Joe Pendold and Derek Haynes from the Melton Constable Trust

On Monday 25th September 2017, the five man team arrived on site and did some undergrowth clearance work in preparation for the tree felling. The following day they arrived early in the morning with two members of the Melton Constable Trust, Derek Haynes and Joe Penfold. Some of the overhanging branches were adjacent to the Old Cromer Road and so once school traffic had passed, Derek and Joe managed the traffic with Stop/Go boards whilst felling took place. Once completed the team moved onto the trusts land to complete the operation.

Tree felling in progress

Project officer Paul Young visited the site on Tuesday 26th September 2017 and spoke to Derek Haynes and Sergeant Philip Brazier, you can listen here:

Useful weblinks here:

33 Engineer Regiment

North Norfolk Railway

Audio: Class 45/1 Preservation Society

Class 45 locomotives also known as the Sulzer Type 4 diesel locomotives nicknamed ‘Peaks’, were built by British Rail between 1960 and 1962. They were used mainly on the Midland Main Line replacing the steam locomotives with the advantages of having considerably more acceleration and power. They were in service for over twenty years, with the last one being withdrawn from service in 1988.

Tony Smith – Driver

In 1986 the Class 45/1 Preservation Society was formed to preserve an example of these locomotives and in 1990, Number 45133 was purchased. It currently runs regularly at Midland Railway – Butterley however because of the locomotives popularity it has been on a number of the preserved railways in the country.

Steve Dexter

Recently 45133 has enjoyed a period of time on the Mid Norfolk Railway and the North Norfolk Railway. On Saturday 23rd September 2017, our project officer Paul Young met up with Steve Dexter, the news letter editor of the Class 45/1 Preservation Society and you listen here:

Local photographer, Andy Marrison has been following the 45133 in Norfolk and here are a selection of some taken recently on the North Norfolk Railway. A calendar for 2018 has been released and will be on sale soon.

Some useful website links below:

Class 45/1 Preservation Society

Midland Railway – Butterley

North Norfolk Railway

Mid-Norfolk Railway

Audio: Newly restored Fakenham Railway Bridge 1715 vandalised

“The police are involved and let there be no doubt, once we find who is responsible, we shall seek prosecutions.”

Those were the words of Trevor Bailey, Chairman of Norfolk charity The Melton Constable Trust in response to two vandal attacks on the Trust’s property. Two and a half years ago the Trust bought, for £24,000, a section of the old Dereham to Fakenham railway at Pudding Norton, Fakenham together with two iconic bridges; one a three arch structure over the River Wensum and the second made of steel and spanning the town’s other old rail route. This was achieved solely with donations from the community. Ultimately, the aim is to restore rail services to Fakenham by linking up with the existing Mid Norfolk Railway(MNR) and introducing principally a public transport service of modern trains together with an extension of MNR’s heritage services. Until then, the Trust wants to make the site safe for walkers and community activities.

Bridge 1715 – Railings missing

Earlier this year, the Trust was able to announce that it had been successful in gaining grants totalling £63,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and other charities and authorities. This was to be used to repair the bridges, which had received no maintenance since before 1980. It would also fund information panels explaining the history of the railway and the importance of the Wensum Valley environment, together with railway based educational materials for Fakenham Academy and a teachers’ course. This would include oral history recordings of local people who worked on or used the line before closure. Fakenham Area Conservation Group would help with maintenance of the area.

The largest task was to arrest the decay of the bridges and to make them safe for visitors to the site. The railway provides a very pleasant walk from the Norwich Road to the banks of the Wensum. The bridge restoration work was accomplished a matter of weeks ago by professional engineers who repaired masonry, repainted metalwork and crucially rebuilt the safety rails on the steel bridge.

“The state of the steel bridge over the old M & G N line was hazardous”, said Trevor Bailey. “Most of the safety rails were gone or seriously bent and corroded. Our engineers completely restored them and added in additional rails to keep visitors, and particularly children, safe. They put in a lot of strong new material. They finished this work only recently”

“Some days ago, we were told by local people who were on the spot that the steel bridge had already been the subject of an attack. One of the safety rails had been completely broken away from its supports and thrown onto the old track bed below the bridge. Another had been bent and it was clear that attempts had been made to destroy others.”

“Since then, there has been a second attack. Another safety rail has been destroyed and, from extensive damage to paintwork, it is clear that every effort was made to wreck the rest. This must have taken considerable force and determination.”

Railing missing laying on the M&GN trackbed below

“It is heart breaking. An enormous amount of effort went into raising the money for the purchase of the land and bridges and for the work that is being done to make them useful to local people pending the restoration of the railway. All of it was done by unpaid volunteers and the site was only bought in the first place because people in the community cared about it enough to donate their own cash. The risk is that the information panels that are due to go on site will also be targets.”

The Trust is asking the public, including walkers who use the site, to keep a watch and report any sign of vandalism to both the police and to the Melton Constable Trust. If anyone thinks he knows who is responsible, the authorities will be very glad to hear.

Paint flecking

Paul Young, the Trust’s Project Officer and local representative, said “If we are not going to see this project wrecked, we need the support of local people. We shall be very grateful for any information. It will also help enormously if members of the community can assist by patrolling the site. You can get in touch with me or one of our trustees who lives in North Norfolk, Derek Haynes to offer assistance or information.”

Contact details are:

Paul Young – 07796 807059 projectofficernor@yahoo.co.uk

Derek Haynes – 07880 558666 dhaynes@btinternet.com

The police can be reached by dialling 101 or visiting their Public Enquiry Office at 30 Norwich Rd, Fakenham NR21 8BB.

“Our colleagues at the Mid Norfolk Railway have recently experienced similar vandalism”, added Paul Young. “Some of their carriages were attacked resulting in about £20,000 worth of damage. It is just possible that there is a connection. The two cases taken together certainly amount to a serious issue.”

“We are now faced with heavy additional costs to put right the damage, with the hope that it will not happen again. For a small volunteer run charity it is a quite a blow. Until repairs can be made, we ask walkers to take care and especially keep young children away from the bridge parapet”

The Trust is determined to press on with its work and to make sure that the police receive any information that is discovered about the culprits.

Wally Webb – BBC Radio Norfolk

On the 8th September 2017, Project Officer Paul Young was interviewed by Wally Webb from BBC Radio Norfolk, which was played out on the Nick Conran Breakfast Show and you can listen to the interview here:

Anyone who would like to donate towards the costs of repairing the damage or to the Trust’s ongoing work to acquire the remaining land needed to restore the railway to Fakenham can do so by sending contributions to the Trust’s Secretary, Adrian Loynes at The Melton Constable Trust, The Railway Institute, 6, Briston Road, Melton Constable, Norfolk, NR24 2DA. Cheques should be made out to The Melton Constable Trust or bank transfers can be made to the Trust’s account: sort code 30-94-34 account no. 00493540.

Audio: Train services return from Wareham to Corfe Castle and Swanage after 45 years.

The 14th June 2017 was an historic day in railway history as after a gap of 45 years, services ran again from the mainline station at Wareham, Dorset to Swanage and Corfe Castle. The ten miles of railway line linking the towns was removed in the summer of 1972 and since then campaigners have been working to reinstate the line.

The Purbeck Community Rail Partnership has been working since 1997 to re-establish a regular passenger rail service from Swanage to Wareham. To enable this to happen funding needed to be sourced. In 2010, Purbeck District Council and Dorset County Council committed £3.2million for re-signalling improvements and other work needed between Wareham Station, Worgret Junction and the Swanage Railway existing signalling system at Corfe Castle. BP also contributed £500,000 towards works at Norden Level Crossing. This was a legacy donation to the community when the oilfield was sold to Perenco UK Limited. Swanage Railway was awarded a £1.47 million government grant from the Coastal Communities Fund. This successful bid helped provide the finance to enable the refurbishment of rolling stock and improvements to the infrastructure. Swanage Railway’s grant, together with the funding from Purbeck District Council and Dorset County Council and BP, enabled the railway infrastructure to be put back in place.

Dorset County Council has underwritten Purbeck District Council’s financial commitment to the signalling work. The funding has been raised through the Purbeck Transport Strategy which aims to improve movement around the district, taking traffic away from the congested A351 by using alternative forms of transport. The Strategy is funded by contributions from development. Enabling a rail link between Swanage and the mainline meets Purbeck District Council’s priority to “help all people access services locally”.

Visitors from Weymouth, Dorchester, Bournemouth, London, and stations across the country, will now be able to visit Swanage and Corfe Castle by train with the service enabling tourists in campsites around Wareham to visit Corfe and Swanage by rail.

This rail reconnection is seen by many as a positive move and will be followed with a great deal of interest by many rail campaigning groups and organisations, the Norfolk Orbital Railway project run by the Melton Constable Trust being one of them.

Three weeks after the rail services were operational, Trevor Bailey a director of the Melton Constable Trust met up with Mark Woolley a director of the Swanage Railway and you can listen to their discussion here:

Useful weblinks:

Swanage Railway

Audio: Dana Wiffen – Colonel Stephens Society

Colonel Stephens, a British light railway civil engineer holds a unique place in railway history for designing, building and managing sixteen light railways in the early years of the last century. They were built to provide links in areas where the main railway engineering companies had not constructed them due to the viability of the services. The light railways were constructed on tight budgets and used second hand materials and locomotives.

Members of the society at Dereham

The pioneering attitude and approach to how these railways were built and operated has attracted a lot of interest over the years and a Colonel Stephens Society was formed. On the weekend of the 20th and 21st May, a Colonel Stephen’s 2017 AGM was held and members of the group took trips out on the Mid Norfolk Railway and on Sunday they travelled from Dereham to the North Norfolk Railway on a vintage 40 seater Bedford Duple coach.

WLO685 Bedford Duple built 1959

On the return trip from Holt to Dereham, they were accompanied by Derek Haynes and Paul Young from the Norfolk Orbital railway project who highlighted some of the key railway points along the way. At County School Station, Dana Wiffen the Publicity Officer for the Colonel Stephens Society had a chat with Paul Young, you can listen here:

Useful links:

Colonel Stephens Society

The Colonel Stephens Railway Museum

Audio: Trevor Bailey – Trustee Melton Constable Trust.

In April we reported on the the successful National lottery application to support the Fakenham Railway project. As part of the first phase of the project, work has started on renovating the railway bridges and is expected to be completed in May.

Contractors starting work on the M&GN bridge 1715

Trevor Bailey who has a Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), is a trustee of the Melton Constable Trust who manage the Norfolk Orbital Project. Trevor was instrumental in putting together the detailed lottery funding application and setting out the project plan. Trevor grew up in Sheringham and played a key part in securing the railway line for what is now the North Norfolk Railway. He has worked in several branches of rural economic and community development, mainly in the charity sector and has been actively involved with rural media organisations which he has set up and developed, as well as chairing several major organisations including an EU funding body.

Trevor is an advocate of public transport and in particular rail use, supporting the multi purpose roles it has in todays society: transport, heritage and freight. On Saturday 6th May 2017, he met up with Paul Young, the project officer for the Norfolk Orbital Railway who is currently managing the Fakenham Project. There are also plans later in the week for a site visit to get a progress update and to set up meetings for phase two of the project which includes the history of the line and interpretation.

Signalling pulley in place on bridge 1715
Project officer Paul Young with Trevor Bailey examining one of the signalling pulleys, awaiting renovation, from bridge 1715

Paul spoke with Trevor about the concept of the Norfolk Orbital Railway and you can listen to what they had to say here: