Funding plea for tourist rail link

Richard BatsonPressure is mounting for county hall to help fund a link-up between a steam railway and a commuter line because it would boost local tourism.A �136,000 scheme at Sheringham would re-join the North Norfolk Railway to the Bittern Line to Norwich - enabling rail fans from all over the country to visit the attraction on special steam-hauled excursions.Richard Batson

Pressure is mounting for county hall to help fund a link-up between a steam railway and a commuter line because it would boost local tourism.

A �136,000 scheme at Sheringham would re-join the North Norfolk Railway to the Bittern Line to Norwich - enabling rail fans from all over the country to visit the attraction on special steam-hauled excursions.

Enthusiasts have raised �40,000 through a public appeal, and are now asking Norfolk County Council to put �90,000 towards the project.

Railway director Julian Birley said it had just held its biggest ever event, with 10,000 people attending each of two steam gala weekends - marking the 50th anniversary of the original branch line being axed.


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'We have people wanting to bring in steam trains from London, Leicester and Birmingham, and even the Flying Scotsman from the National Railway Museum if the link is made.

'It would only be half a dozen times a year, out of the main holiday season - and would benefit not just the railway but the local bed and breakfasts, taxi drivers, pubs, butchers and bakers.

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'And I am talking as a businessman not a 'chuffer nutter',' said Mr Birley, whose has 25 years experience in the property world.

The excursions would bring in 300-400 people a time, as well as many more travelling in from elsewhere to see the trains.

The railway has planning permission for the scheme, which would see the reinstatement of an old level crossing between the Bittern Line and steam stations.

It is hoped to start work in October this year if the money package can be completed.

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