Bittern Line

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Bittern Line
Roughton Road Railway station 10 Nov 2007 (6).JPG
Overview
Type Heavy rail
System National Rail
Status Operational
Locale Norfolk
East of England
Termini Norwich
Sheringham
Stations 10
Operation
Opening 1874-77
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) Abellio Greater Anglia
Character Rural Branch line
Rolling stock Class 153 "Sprinter"
Class 156 "Sprinter"
Class 170 "Turbostar"
Technical
Line length 30.41 mi (48.94 km)
No. of tracks 1-2
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The Bittern Line[1] is a railway line from Norwich to Cromer then Sheringham[2] in Norfolk, England. It is one of the most scenic in the East of England traversing the Norfolk Broads on its route to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the North Norfolk Coast. The line is part of the Network Rail Strategic Route 7, SRS 07.11 and is classified as a rural line.[3] It is named after the Bittern, a rare bird found in the reedy wetlands of Norfolk.

History[edit]

The line was opened between Norwich and North Walsham in 1874 by the East Norfolk Railway, and it reached Cromer by 1877. The rest of the line, between Cromer and Sheringham, was opened in 1887 using a section of the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway line (a further section of the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway running from Sheringham to Holt is preserved as the North Norfolk Railway).

The Bittern Line Partnership was set up by Norfolk County Council in 1997.

In November 2006 track renewal work began with whole lengths of the old track being lifted and new rails and sleepers being installed, along with new level crossing points. The work will improve the ride comfort and safety and reduce the noise levels for those living near to the track. The work was carried out by Balfour Beatty on behalf of Network Rail.

The line was designated as a community rail line by the Department for Transport on 28 September 2007.

Passenger numbers are increasing, and the route has seen a number of service improvements in recent years, including two additional trains in the evening (one an hour after the previous last train, and one filling in a two-hour gap before the last train), and the next timetable will see the Sunday service improved from two-hourly to hourly.

Bittern Line
North Norfolk Railway (former M&GN to Melton Constable)
Sheringham (North Norfolk Railway)
Station Road, Sheringham
Sheringham
A149
West Runton
Cromer (Beach)
A148
Cromer High
M&GN to Yarmouth Beach via Mundesley-on-Sea
Roughton Road
A149 to Great Yarmouth
Gunton For Northrepps Aerodrome
A149 to Great Yarmouth
B1150 to Coltishall
to Cromer Beach via Mundesley-on-Sea
Melton Constable M&GN Yarmouth Beach
North Walsham
Worstead
former line to County School
Bure Valley Railway
B1354 to Coltishall
Hoveton and Wroxham for the Broads
River Bure
A1151 To Norwich
Salhouse
A1242 to Norwich
Wherry Lines
River Yare
River Yare
Great Eastern Main Line
Norwich

Route[edit]

The towns and villages served by the route are listed below.[4]

Services[edit]

Passenger services are operated by Greater Anglia. The line is also used by freight services which are operated by GB Railfreight, part of Groupe Eurotunnel S.A. The line also sees freight services taking gas condensate from a terminal at North Walsham to Harwich.

A service was in place that sent spent ballast to North Walsham for onwards sale and disposal. This service has now ceased as the contract with Frimstone for spent TfL ballast has finished.

Infrastructure[edit]

The line is double track from Norwich to Hoveton and Wroxham where the line becomes single track, with a passing loop at North Walsham, and a two platform station at Cromer also allowing passing. The line is not electrified, has a loading gauge of W8 between Norwich and Roughton Road and W6 from Roughton Road to Sheringham, and a line speed of between 40-75 mph.[3]

The line was resignalled in 2000, leading to the closure of a number of mechanical signal boxes with control moving to a panel in the Trowse Swing Bridge control room, although it is arguable if this is a real improvement since there have been a number of serious failures causing full or partial suspension of service during electrical storms. This is due to the system using high frequency pulses in the rail as opposed to standard track circuits to operate level crossings. This saw the end of one of the few remaining sections of single track main line controlled by tokens. The signalling meant that Cromer Signal box, the last surviving M&GN example, was decommissioned; however it has been saved as a museum.

The line uses Class 153, Class 156 and Class 170 diesel multiple units.

One of the main signalling problems lies in the data loggers at Whittlingham Junction which when the fail safe system trips them requires a manual reset. The same system has been installed on the Marston Vale Line Between Bedford and Bletchley, but the system was installed using automatic reset for the data loggers. Network Rail claim that they cannot justify the £93,000 to replace the manual ones at Whittlingham.[citation needed]

Proposed developments[edit]

Rackheath station[edit]

A new station is included as part of the Rackheath eco-town which would be served by a 15 minute service during peak time.[6] The building of the town may also mean a short freight spur being built to transport fuel to fire an on-site power station. The plans for the settlement received approval from the government in July 2009.[7]

The Sheringham Link[edit]

The second train to use the new level crossing, Saturday 24 April 2010

After a time period of 36 years the link between the Bittern Line and the North Norfolk Railway was reinstated on 11 March 2010 upon the occasion of the opening of a new level crossing at Sheringham. Occasional uses by charter trains and visiting rolling stock are anticipated to not exceed 12 times a year.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.bitternline.com/
  2. ^ OS Explorer Map 252 - Norfolk Coast East. ISBN 978-0-319-23815-8.
  3. ^ a b "Route 7 - Great Eastern". Network Rail. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  4. ^ http://www.bitternline.com/images/Final%20Bittern%20Line%20leaflet%2008%20.pdf
  5. ^ Ordnance Survey (2005). OS Explorer Map OL40 - The Broads. ISBN 0-319-23769-9.
  6. ^ "Transport". Rashheath eco-community. 
  7. ^ "Airfield eco-town plan selected". BBC News. 2009-07-16. Retrieved 2009-07-19. 

External links[edit]