Orbital railway group's hopes raised

Railway enthusiasts hoping to create a Norfolk orbital railway have set their sights on what could be their first purchase of track bed - but they want help keeping the price down.

Railway enthusiasts hoping to create a Norfolk orbital railway have set their sights on what could be their first purchase of track bed - but they want help keeping the price down.

The 3.5acre site with two railway bridges at Pudding Norton, near Fakenham, is coming up for auction on February 17 with an estimated value of �3,000-�5,000.

It has 440m of track, once a busy crossing point for the now defunct Midland and Great Northern Railway (M&GN) and Great Eastern Railway (GER).

But while to many it may be of little use - because it is protected by planning policy from development - it could become a key section of the proposed Norfolk Orbital Railway project.


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This would see an orbital railway going from Norwich to Cromer and Sheringham, then to Holt and on to Fakenham before down to Dereham and Wymondham and finally back up to Norwich.

Former railway track bed would be used and it would return train travel to large parts of mid and north Norfolk.

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Trevor Bailey, a Norfolk Orbital Railway company director, said: 'It is not the only route, but it could work. It is a useful piece of land if it goes for a reasonable price.

'Under the undergrowth on the embankment everything is still there exactly as it was. The ballast is still there and everything.

'If we are successful it will be the first piece of track bed for the project we have bought.'

The group is asking people not to bid against them for the land so they can get it at a reasonable price.

Under a proposal included in North Norfolk's local development framework, trains from the Mid Norfolk Railway (MNR) would make their way north to Fakenham along the old Great Eastern Railway (GER).

Just after crossing over the river Wensum on the first bridge on the land the line would peel off left and join the old Midland and Great Northern Railway (M&GN) track and then come to a terminus.

To go in the direction of Holt it would trace back from the terminus along the route it just came, passing back over the river Wensum on the GER line, but then peel off left.

However, the scheme still has a considerable way to go. It is hoped work on a link at Sheringham, connecting the North Norfolk Railway to the mainline, will start this year.

But there are some 13 miles of railway which would need recreating between Holt and Fakenham as well as between Fakenham and County School at North Elmham, where the Mid Norfolk Railway's land ends, for the orbital to be created, Mr Bailey said.

The land around the Pudding Norton track bed is also protected by a European environmental designation called an SSSI.

Both North Norfolk Council and Mr Bailey said they don't think this would cause a problem for the railway at all.

To help the orbital appeal go to www.norfolk-orbital-railway.co.uk

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