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Mid Norfolk Railway - General discussion

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by toplight, Mar 18, 2010.

  1. bertiecollins

    bertiecollins New Member

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    Hi all, just to let you know that i have made a website to show whats going on with 73210 and cig1497 which are at the Mid Norfolk Railway, take a look at southernpreservationgroup.yolasite.com and let me know what you think.
     
  2. toplight

    toplight Member

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    I had a trip along the Mid Norfolk between Christmas and new year with family and the train passed over the new Thuxton loop section. Excellent work ! well done to all involved.

    Found this interesting picture (sse link)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/49572843@N00/5181809680/sizes/l/in/photostream/

    of East Dereham station taken in March 1962 on flickr showing the ex GER J17 8217 at Dereham. The scene hasn't changed much today but the footbridge has long gone. The MNR have acquired another ex GER one from Whittlesford in Cambridgeshire so hopefully this will soon we re erected where the old one was.

    The loco of course still exists and is currently at Barrow Hill and is now part of the NRM collection but as far as I am aware has never been steamed in preservation.

    So wouldn't it be great if the J17 could be put back into steam, footbridge rebuild and this whole scene recreated today ? What do others think ?

    Incidentally what is the current condition of the J17 ?
     
  3. toplight

    toplight Member

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    There doesn't seem to be a thread for the Mid Norfolk Railway so as I recently travelled on it thought I would create one. I recently had a trip on the line at their Steam Gala and it is a really good line with so much potential ( I am not a member or involved). There is around 11 miles of running line and all the original stations along the route survive. Most are private houses now, but at least there is potential for them to be purchased if they come up for sale.
    I also had a ride (for the very first time) on their local train north of Dereham which I was particularly pleased with, This is their extension which they hope to get eventually as far as County School station, which you can also visit, but at the moment only by car. It was great to do, the extention needs further work such as cutting down more of the vegetation but it is still really great progress.

    I would really recommend a visit there for those that have not been. It has the potential to be a Severn Valley of the future. The towns Wymondham and Dereham at either ends of the line are also nice historic towns and worth a visit. The main Wymondham station on the national network is also very pretty and has a nice cafe.
     
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  4. Herald

    Herald Member

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    Certainly a line with potential and has managed to put on several good galas making use of its main line connection.

    Whether the priorities of the extension relative to addressing the need for proper sheds and addressing the poor state of much of the stock are correct is, however, a larger question. As stated the current operational route is from somewhere to somewhere and generally through pleasant countryside. The scenery on the extension is arguably less interesting, will take the line to a terminus lacking other attractions and involve operation over a significant number of additional level crossings. Perhaps somebody from the railway could comment on whether that terminus will be suitable for the construction of more storage and engineering facilities and additional visitor parking or if planning constraints prevent this and in reality it will increase the line's overheads whilst doing little to boost revenue.
     
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  5. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Part of the furniture

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    I live about an hour away from Wymondham and I'm always happy to pay a visit, I really think it has an awful lot of potential, it'll take time but if such a young line can attract so many big hitters, such as 60009, 61994, 6023, 46233 and convince West Coast to send over 3 of its fleet and a rake of stock, there's people in high up places that have one of 2 things, A) Good contacts with the right people in various companies on the big railway, and professional way of doing things, or B) photographs of said high up contacts in 'ahem' compromising positions! :);):p
     
  6. John Petley

    John Petley Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for these posts. The Mid-Norfolk looks to be a railway with a very promising future and, as the photos in the railway press indicate, has made huge strides recently. As a result of reading this thread, I looked at the railway's website, which was very informative. Certainly a line I'd like to visit it one of these days.

    Could it be, as Toplight suggests, the "Severn Valley of the future"? I can hardly claim to write in any authoritative capacity given I've never visited the line, but if it does reach that exalted status, it will have to address the issue of locomotives and carriages. Lines which started in the 1960s had a huge advantage inasmuch as locos and pre-nationalisation carriages could be purchased directly from BR. Look at the Bluebell or the Severn Valley. By contrast, 1970s/early 1980 lines like the West Somerset and Swanage have had to rely largely on Barry locos and Mk 1 stock. This has not prevented them becoming very successful and popular lines.

    It's much tougher for a latecomer. Judging by the pictures I've seen, the MNR can do a wonderful job recreating the late 1970 diesel era, with Mk 2 stock and rail blue diesels, but if it is also seeking to run reasonably convincing steam trains, even decent Mk 1s are getting hard to come by. As for steam locos, some do change hands or location and 9466 is now based there for some of the time, but it isn't going to be easy to build up a decent fleet and finding anything appropriate to a GER/LNER line will be particularly challenging. Most engines which are currently up for sale are Swindon products (2859, 4121, 7760) and the first two would require a huge amount of money to be spent before they could steam again.

    I'm not saying this to pour cold water on the line's potential, but these are issues which it will need to face if it aspires to "premier league" status. Indeed, I hope it does as it looks to have plenty of potential - attractive stations, a decent length of line. main line connection, doesn't run from nowhere to nowhere and, contrary to the popular perception of East Anglia as flat, some quite decent gradients. It already has attracted some very high-profile visitors for its galas so all in all, definitely one of the rising stars in the preservation movement.
     
  7. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Enjoyed my visit to their recent gala but they do need to pay attention to the rolling stock. Travelled in a Mk.2 FO and it was really down at heel. My armrest kept falling off and whilst it was a source of mild amusement to me, ordinary folk may not be so forgiving. Hopefully such issues will be addressed as time goes on.
     
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  8. toplight

    toplight Member

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    One of the things I really like about the line is many parts of it have the real old East Anglia rural railway charm. It was never modernized much so all the way along are the old level crossings with wooden gates and oil lamps across the road so it feels nice and old fashioned (steam age) seeing them being opened and closed by hand. I agree that the County school station is a bit in the middle of nowhere as a destination. You have to get to it down a narrow track from the main road, but the building itself is all original and very nice. (see picture below). Originally there was a massive public school there and also the line split here with one line toward Fakenham and the other towards Wroxham, but the junction is now gone and the Public school was demolished in the 1950s so the two reasons why it was built have both now gone.
    [​IMG]

    The extension seems obvious to do too because there is only about 1.5 miles of track missing and no real big obstacles like missing bridges which need to be overcome. Also they actually own the County school station so can use it for a shop or tea room etc, whereas as has been said, most of the other stations they can only use the platforms while the station buildings themselves are private houses. If passengers want to get off and look at a town they can do so at Wymondham and Dereham. From what I have seen anyway many visitors to all steam railways tend to spend the day at the railway and don't always wander off into the nearby town. Some do of course but not all.

    Like many I scoffed a bit at their use of many Mark 2 coaches, but when I rode on them recently it felt nostalgic particularly as they are no longer in real use on the national network. In another 20 years they will feel even more 'heritage'. There are Mark 1s in use there too.

    I grew up in the area so go back and visit from time to time and I have really watched the line develop. The first time I went to Dereham station (around 2000) the inside was just one big room as I believe it had been an office. The windows on the platform side were bricked up, but then with grant funding it was all rebuilt and the interior walls all put back, ticket office, shop, cafe etc. Wooden sash windows put back in place of where it was bricked up so it was wonderful to see it at the Gala with a busy atmosphere again and steam trains coming and going. Hopefully it will develop further in the years ahead. I am surprised they haven't hired in the North Norfolk B12 as it ran regularly on this line in BR days. Would be great to see it run there. Ideally they need the NRM J17 and E4 running there too as they are both types that operated on the line. Perhaps a new build Claud Hamilton too !
     
  9. The Dainton Banker

    The Dainton Banker Well-Known Member

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    What is going on at this railway ? Six months ago they looked set to reach County School within a month or so, but since then - zilch, no information !
    Their website has nothing about the extension, and the Facebook and Twitter pages are almost entirely occupied by information about their Christmas program. The several appeals all seem to be still open but one wonders how they expect to fill any of them without giving them publicity ? Do they not understand the support that could be available to them if only they would communicate with the enthusiast community at large ?
     
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  10. mikechant

    mikechant Member

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    The most recent info about the extension was this post on the MNR Facebook page on 9th november 2017

    I don't know where you got the impression that they were nearly at County School. At present they are just bringing the existing track as far as North Elmham back into use by replacing sleepers etc. They haven't yet started tackling 'the gap' from North Elmham to County School (approx 1.4 miles), where the track is actually missing.
    There is still a platform at North Elmham but I'm not sure if it's in a useable state or what the ownership issues might be. But if that can be sorted out there's probably a possibility that trains could run regularly to North Elmham later next year, if that's a sensible thing to do.

    And yes, it would be a very good idea to have a regularly updated extension progress page on the website. I just check through the facebook page from time to time but that's not ideal.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2017
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  11. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 Member

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    I think financially the extension had to be put on hold while they dealt with repairs to the carriages that were vandalised over the summer. Which probably isn't the whole explanation, but will give some account for setback reasons.

    I agree with a lot of what has been said here, there is huge potential in the line, and in terms of their ability to get big names in for galas, that is encouraging too. They just need to get some resident steam (which, with the restoration of Hunslet Austerity 3135 nearing completion, could well be a feature of 2018), and then build on what they have. Perhaps developing existing facilities rather than extending would be a more sensible option, such as developing steam facilities at Dereham, or building a nicer station at Wymondham than the wooden platform currently on offer. And it would be rather nice to see something like the J17 running there (I would imagine the E4 might be considered a bit too underpowered for high season traffic).
     
  12. toplight

    toplight Member

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    I think it will be years (at least 10 ) before we see trains get to County School. (although you can visit by car). The line does seem to be gradually upgraded etc with rotten sleepers being replaced. As per my original post I did have a ride on it as far as Hoe which I was very pleased with although you cant get off at Hoe as there is no station. The train just returned back to Dereham. The next target is North Elmham where the station built by the LNER survives but it was modified and an extra upper story added. I have read that this was done without planning permission and then came to a stop.

    I am sure I read somewhere that they are only allowed to operate passenger trains on the Northern extension for 4 days a year as the railway inspectorate has put in this limitation until further upgrade work is done so this figures why it was only in use during the gala and isn't normally used and it did run very slowly on this part.

    I go about every 3 years or so and each time the railway has developed a little bit further. I think there are plans to put in a new footbridge at Dereham and they already have a suitable ex GER one obtained for this to replace the one removed in BR days. This should mean they could then use the other platform at Dereham which isn't used currently.

    I am not sure what happened with their website. They used to have quite a good informative one that got updated from time to time but now it has been replaced with a new hopeless one with little info and seemingly wanting you to donate money on every page.

    I can recommend a trip, it is a good line with so much potential.
     
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  13. s1m0nad

    s1m0nad New Member

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    Re the comment regarding the Facebook and Twitter pages being almost entirely occupied by Christmas - I think this can be explained by the importance to the railway of the Polar Express event. An interesting article appeared in the local paper which noted that the railway had 12,000 passengers on this year's Polar Express compared to 3,500 on last year's Santa Specials. A rough calculation (with say 20% premium tickets) would give a gross income of over £300,000 compared to around £60,000 for the previous year (the tickets for the Polar Express were considerably more than the Santa Specials). Also to put it in context, the railway's income from 'Ticket sales, freight income and driving experiences' in 2016 was £318,500 (per the accounts on the Charities Commission website) - it can be seen what an impact it will make to railway's finances, even after additional costs such as licence fees and wages for the actors are taken into account.

    North Elmham station has now been converted into a house and, unlike some of the other stations on the line, the whole of the platform was sold off by BR so a new platform would be required. The current owner of the station has a twitter feed (https://twitter.com/northelmhamstn) with lots of photos of the conversion, but also their tweet on 3rd July showed how close the MNR's work trains have got to North Elmham. Extension to County School would require an additional Transport and Works order (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2001/3413/made) only covers the section to just north of North Elmham - the map on the MNR website shows this and the gap to the track at County School.
     
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  14. toplight

    toplight Member

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    That Polar express venture looks to have been very successful, well done MNR. Also good to see the owner of North Elmham station seems very supportive of the railway returning there.

    There is some archive footage here of Fakenham East station further along the line http://www.eafa.org.uk/catalogue/213365 when it was announced it would close. Shame it was only demolished in the 1980s
     
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  15. s1m0nad

    s1m0nad New Member

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    Just announced by the Mid Norfolk railway, at their AGM, is that they have entered into a 3-year contract to store rolling stock for Abellio Greater Anglia. This will involve infrastructure changes including reinstating the double track between Hardingham and Kimberley Park Stations, installing four sidings north of Kimberley Park and a connection into the yard at Hardingham. The contract is worth £3m and involves both new stock and the stock subsequently withdrawn - see http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/mid-norfolk-railway-deal-store-greater-anglia-trains-1-5586057 and https://www.greateranglia.co.uk/abo...s-mid-norfolk-railway-new-trains-introduction
    Quite a result for the railway!
     
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  16. Matt37401

    Matt37401 Part of the furniture

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    Good news! Just wondering where this leaves all the work at the sidings at Yarmouth though? Hmm?
     
  17. s1m0nad

    s1m0nad New Member

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    Not sure about Yarmouth sidings, but plans seemed to have been changed - for example in December 2017, Abellio announced plans for a new depot at Brantham (https://www.greateranglia.co.uk/abo...les/plans-unveiled-new-depot-near-manningtree) but in April of this year it was announced that Crown point depot in Norwich was being upgraded instead (https://www.greateranglia.co.uk/abo...forming-norwich-depot-in-readiness-new-trains) - this latter article explains that 'Options for other additional maintenance facilities – originally planned to be at Brantham - are still being considered'
     
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  18. toplight

    toplight Member

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    Great news for the railway, hopefully they will release more details on what is planned. Double track between Hardingham and Kimberley sounds good. Wonder if that will be just a siding or to a standard where they could use it as proper double track with trains passing. GCR style in Norfolk !. Originally it was all double track from Wymondham to Dereham. Also with the sidings wonder if the MNR will keep them there when it is all finished or use the track elsewhere like for example an extension to County School.

    Maybe the MNR should suggest to Abellio that they build a carriage shed to keep the new trains in temporarily which they can then use themselves when Abellio have finished using it. Wouldn't want them shiny new trains getting damaged by Vandals would they ?
     
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  19. M59137

    M59137 Well-Known Member

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    Who knows what may be possible in the far future, however the section in question is reportedly life expired and there are speed restrictions already in place. I may be wrong but I was told that the rail is worn along that section.

    What this would suggest is that the new track may be laid alongside allowing the existing "main line" to become the storage siding. At the end of the contact the railway will have a 2 mile worn siding rather than double track. However the deal is still to be celebrated, as the result is going to be a large section of the line renewed for future use. Without it, the railway would surely have shortly been facing a huge bill for replacement rail along that section?

    I will be certainly be following the project with interest, and I'm sure those with more involvement with the MNR will comment and report further.

    Sent from my HTC U Play using Tapatalk
     
  20. toplight

    toplight Member

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    That is interesting. I had a quick look at google maps for the section and recall when I last went there this time last year that the double track part is already at least partly laid, so it maybe that they were intending to do it anyway and have been able to use it also for the Abellio Contract. Would make sense to lay it alongside and then quickly switch to the new track when it is finished.
     

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