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Plans for a Norfolk Orbital Railway took a big leap forward this weekend as campaigners launched a £250,000 fundraising appeal to allow them to buy vital plots of land in Holt.

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It marks the latest stage of the project which eventually aims to restore mainline rail links around the county and create a circular route taking in Norwich, Cromer, Sheringham, Fakenham, Dereham and Wymondham.

While the Bittern line, North Norfolk Railway and Mid Norfolk Railway have already gone some way to restoring the loop, missing links remain between High Kelling and North Elmham. But in March 2010, plans for the 84-mile orbital railway were given a major boost after 100 yards of track was laid at Sheringham to connect the heritage North Norfolk Railway with the commuter service between Norwich and Cromer.

Derek Haynes, chairman of the Holt, Melton Constable and Fakenham Railway, said that had given everyone more hope. He said: “There were loads of doubters who said that would never happen – it was too expensive, not enough support – well now the crossing is back in. That has opened people’s eyes – this can be achieved.”

The next stage in the major plan is to take the line from its current stop a mile outside Holt into the town centre, alongside the A148 bypass and over to Common Hill.

At a meeting called by the Holt, Melton Constable and Fakenham Railway Company on Saturday, rail enthusiasts were at last able to reveal the results of talks about plots of land in Holt vital to the plans.

Trevor Bailey, one of the company’s directors, said: “We have real practical progress to report, but it needs your help and the help of a lot of other people if it’s going to bear fruit. If you want to build a railway, you need land to build it on.

“The upshot is that we now have signed an agreement which will allow us to purchase the privately-owned land – if we can raise the money – and the county council would like to sell their portion of the land to us.”

It is expected to cost between £200,000 and £250,000 to secure the land which would pave the way to re-instating the track.

The group would then begin looking at how to take the line through Melton Constable and along to Fakenham, where it could meet up with the proposed extension of the Mid Norfolk Railway.

Rail enthusiast David Bill said the events of the past week, where motorists began panic-buying fuel, proved the need for a better rail service in Norfolk.

To support the appeal, send donations to The Holt, Melton Constablt and Fakenham Railway Co., The Railway Institute, Melton Constable, Norfolk, NR24 2DA.

victoria.leggett@archant.co.uk

16 comments

  • I quite agree with Douglas McCoy, "it's a great pity that this country has succumbed into such apathy that people with imagination and vision are so quickly dismissed". We have a visionary in our midst (who incidentally has never campaigned for funding) who wished to negotiate with Norfolk County Council for a right of way to provide a narrow pedestrian crossing over the defunct railway track bed to solve Holt's desperate car parking problems. He offered £25,000 which was refused. A demand of £43,000 was subsequently made and he offered £50,000, with a request that stage payments could be considered. This offer has been refused and NCC are now demanding a one-off payment of £120,000. Who has now determined that a sum of £250,000 will buy the "vital plots of land" needed to progress the pie-in-the-sky Norfolk Orbital Railway? Certainly a case of double standards.

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    Tufty

    Wednesday, April 4, 2012

  • Tufty; Businessmen, bartering.There seem to be plots of land everywhere that local authorities must buy from a higher LG authority "or else". Stalham`s old railway yard springs to mind. Then there`s tacit blackmail ref derelict hotels in Wroxham. Sorry, Hoveton. Shady dealings on obsolete giant TV screens in Great Yarmouth. All these items have "local politician" and "vested interest" writ large. Who owns those "private plots of land"? Double Bill has a valid point.

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    Mad Brewer

    Wednesday, April 4, 2012

  • If the County Council really wanted to end the car park farce right now, they could. Why don't they sell the bit of land to the railway project, and let the railway allow access for the car park immediately, and when the railway is eventually in place, provide an automatic level crossing for pedestrians? What a good thing it will be when the railway is there. All those people visiting Holt without their cars! Wouldn't the car park make a good park and ride as well? Now, that's the way forward, so, for heaven's sake let's get on with it.

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    Joey

    Monday, April 2, 2012

  • What a joke travelling by rail is! To travel from Holt to Norwich via Sheringham, the first train leaves at 10.30am (when they're running!) and arrives in Norwich at 12.41pm. To return you must catch the 3.45pm at Norwich to get back to Sheringham in order to get the last 5.00pm train for Holt. The cost is nearly £21 for 3 hours once you've arrived at Thorpe Station in Norwich. Alternative cost effective method of travelling? I think not. If Douglas McCoy thinks that this will be "a solution to people's transport needs", then he's in cloud cuckoo land just like all the railway buffs campaigning to fund their totally unrealistic pipe dream.

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    Acle Straight

    Wednesday, April 4, 2012

  • It's a great pity that this country has succumbed into such apathy that people with imagination and vision are so quickly dismissed. The reason that rail travel became unpopular was due to the advent of cheap private motoring after the last war. Rather than have the vision to preserve the routes which railway lines were built on Beeching simply saw the short term solution of cutting and selling off anything that he claimed was uneconomic. Whilst much of his work was valid at the time there is no doubt that many lines which were closed were still economically viable. With the increasing cost of private motoring today and the removal and reduction of bus subsidies concurrently occurring in Norfolk there will in the future be a real need to look at alternative forms of public transport to serve the rural areas of Norfolk and North Norfolk in particular. In this regard I have no doubt that rail will once again be seen as a solution to people's transport needs. Presumably, the government agree that rail has much to offer in the future hence its backing for projects such as HS2. Lets hope that the doom sayers are ignored and visionary's are listened to?

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    Douglas McCoy

    Tuesday, April 3, 2012

  • As I understand it there are those on Holt Town Council who are completely opposed to idea of an orbital railway? One assumes that they believe that the affluent residents of Holt and North Norfolk will be able to afford private motoring without concerns about rising costs? Unfortunately, with the reduction of bus subsidies and the scarceness of buses at certain times of the week mean that unless you have a car you are extremely limited by how you remain mobile. The Luddite mentality of those who cannot envisage anything else as a means of transport other than the private car needs to be seriously challenged!

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    Douglas McCoy

    Monday, April 2, 2012

  • Great that this extension to the North Norfolk Railway is now being seriously considered.

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    Port Watcher

    Monday, April 2, 2012

  • Any chance of an eventual link with the Wells & Walsingham miniature line ? As a short term measure, how about a (possibly vintage) circular bus link between the heritage rail termini at Holt, Walsingham, Dereham and Aylsham, which could also serve the heritage sites at County School and Reepham as well as tourist attractions such as Blickling Hall and Gressenhall Museum ? A seasonal Sunday service could also provide transport for local residents in places like Reepham and Swanton Morley.

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    Simon Norton

    Monday, April 2, 2012

  • I think Mr McCoy should read the article much more carefully! The £250,000 fundraising appeal, "is to take the line from its current stop a mile outside Holt into the town centre, alongside the A148 bypass". Derek Haynes, chairman of the Holt, Melton Constable and Fakenham Railway, boasts of the "100 yards of track laid at Sheringham to connect the heritage North Norfolk Railway with the commuter service between Norwich and Cromer". My "information and costs" were therefore based on just how ridiculous, impractical and uneconomic it is to suggest using the NNR and Bittern Line to commute from Holt to Norwich. The expenditure needed to reinstate the infrastructure throughout the 84-mile orbital circuit could never be recovered from the sale of tickets and therefore negates it ever being considered a, "viable alternative". The venture's OK for boys who like playing with their toys, but can never be seriously considered as a means to commute.

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    Acle Straight

    Thursday, April 5, 2012

  • what use is a park and ride if it doesn't run every ten minutes ? who is the businessman with the car park bartering with here . . the county council or the railway who seem to potentially have the land ?

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    Double Bill

    Monday, April 2, 2012

  • I'm not sure where Acle Straight gets his information or costs from? His costs and time taken for a rail journey from Holt to Norwich presumably include the use of the NNR Heritage Line? I and others have not suggested that at the present time that it would be practical or economic to use a combination of the NNR and the Bittern Line as a means to commute from Holt to Norwich on a daily basis. The success of the Bittern line proves that given enough support people will readily use rail transport as an alternative to the bus and car. The only thing preventing similar benefits being realised for people wishing to use the train to get to Fakenham, Dereham or even Wymondham is the lack of imagination and drive to find ways to reinstate the track bed from Dereham back towards Holt. By providing an infrastructure you will create commercial interest for train operating companies to consider establishing new routes. As for being a railway buff I'm far from it. However, I do believe that relying on the car with its increasingly prohibitive costs combined with an increasing lack of investment for the road network is reason to look at any viable alternatives? If this means in Acle's word's that I'm living in ''Cloud Cuckoo Land'' then I'm OK with that!

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    Douglas McCoy

    Wednesday, April 4, 2012

  • Oh dear another blue sky project -in the current financial climate where do they propose to get £250,000 from? I'm sure the hard pressed County Council would like the money (if not the car park) but, I do not see this happening this any time soon -tell me where do you propose to build a station and all the required facilities in Holt? A level crossing (given how dangerous they are) would need a public enquiry at least! I'm sure the North Norfolk and the Mid Norfolk railways fully agree the money could be better used improving what we have without extending into the wilds of nowhere and through the middle of Pensthorpe Wildlife Park (I see no one's mentioned that little gem!). A pro rail serious doubter of dodgy projects

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    Public Champion

    Monday, April 2, 2012

  • One could be tempted into thinking it sounds good but the original railway was not successful. Nice perhaps if it could have been but, other than for limited seasonal tourist attractions, there are simply not enough people living in the areas it would serve to make it viable in the future, especially when you add in all the costs to install track let alone run a service. And I say this as someone who likes and visits regularly the North Norfolk, Bure Valley and Mid Norfolk Railways

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    andy

    Monday, April 2, 2012

  • Fascinating that this project gets land cheap from Norfolk County Council but the council wants excessive amounts for access to cross the same strip of land next to a car park in Holt. The railway will be in Holt before it gets a new car park. Still at least that's one way to end the parking problems.

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    Jeffrey Osborne

    Monday, April 2, 2012

  • Great that this extension to the North Norfolk Railway is now being seriously considered.

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    Port Watcher

    Monday, April 2, 2012

  • I believe the railway will be up and running before the car park. I've paid £1.70 today to park in Holt for 2 hrs. It was £1.70 for THREE hours until recently. Rip off!

    Report this comment

    samphirelover

    Monday, April 2, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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