Five-hour power cut to hit Sheringham

Victoria LeggettTraders in Sheringham are set to lose an afternoon's business next week when electricity is switched off to start work on a much-anticipated rail link.Victoria Leggett

Traders in Sheringham were set to lose an afternoon's business yesterday when electricity was switched off to start work on a much-anticipated rail link.

Some shop owners reacted angrily to a letter from EDF Energy, saying power would be cut for five hours, because it would force them to close and lose hundreds of pounds in sales.

But others said it was a hit worth taking if it meant the town's two railway lines were at last joined - hopefully bringing more shoppers to the area next year.

The electricity was due to be switched off between noon and 5pm yesterday - about the time the North Norfolk News went to press - affecting 180 homes and businesses in the area, as part of work to move underground electricity cables on Station Road.

North Norfolk Railway commissioned EDF to carry out the work which will allow a level crossing to be created, joining its Poppy Line heritage railway to the mainline Bittern Line at Sheringham.

Once completed, hopefully by March 2010, the link would allow chartered steam trains laden with hundreds of enthusiasts to come to the town from all over the country.

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Helen Sidell, who runs Claws and Paws pet shop on Station Road with her husband Ian, said she was set to lose about �600 in sales yesterday afternoon.

But Mike Crowe, whose bric-a-brac store on the same road, said he hoped his business would ultimately benefit.

He said: 'It's a difficult situation. As a short term measure, it will affect trade. But long term, if it means in fact the level crossing is re-instated, it will bring more people into the town.'

Colin Borg, spokesman for North Norfolk Railway, said the company had needed to choose a three-month window during which EDF could carry out the work but had no control over exactly when the cables would be moved within that time.

With civil engineering work planned during January and February, the railway had tried to choose a period which would not interfere with the busy Christmas season.

Mr Borg added: 'The NNR is very sorry for any inconvenience to traders in the town…. However, it must be stressed that the crossing is set to bring considerable benefits to the town - both through off-peak steam charter trains visiting with up to 300 people per train, and because the crossing will make the Poppy Line an even bigger attraction.'