Hundreds gather in Sheringham to see steam engine use road crossing
More than 500 people turned out in Sheringham on Saturday to watch a vintage steam engine on its way from London to Holt over the road crossing opened just last year.
The Britannia Pacific 70013, called Oliver Cromwell, travelled up the Great Eastern main line from London Liverpool Street, where it was listed on the electronic departures board next to the operator name North Norfolk Railway.
It then stopped at Norwich before travelling on to Cromer, Sheringam and Holt.
The engine was the same one which first opened the new crossing in March of last year after more than �140,000 was raised from grants and donations.
The small crossing enabled trains to run directly from London to Holt, linking the North Norfolk Railway with the national network, whereas engines had previously been brought in by road for special events.
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The crossing, which was opened by Pete Waterman, had been shut since 1964 when a series of railways around the country were withdrawn from service.
North Norfolk Railway now has permission to use the crossing 12 times a year and said it intends to bring as many trains in as possible.
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Colin Borg, marketing director of the railway, said: 'It was a really grand sight.'
'It was a very busy day and a tremendous buzz around the town.
'The magic of Sheringham was seeing the train crossing the main road. That's the bit that gets everyone going.
'The railway's very much now a part of the community in the town, we're bringing so many people in.
'Despite the economic gloom we've actually got a tremendous lot slated to happen on the railway this year.'
Mr Borg said that although the crossing was in place by March last year the railway had not been able to arrange as many visits by steam engines over the summer as they had expected, because tour operators had already printed their brochures.
But already for the coming year the railway has confirmed that two diesel locomotives will run from North London to Holt on May 7 and that another will run from Holt to York and Scarborough on July 9.
The railway is also in talks to bring even more engines to Holt in the coming months.
The railway also plans to increase the number of services run on its own tracks to encourage more tourists to visit.
Last year the railway carried a total of 144,000 passengers.
t For more information on upcoming events at the railway visit www.nnrailway.co.uk or call 01263 820800.