Norfolk Orbital Railway
|The Holt, Melton Constable and Fakenham Railway Company (Norfolk Orbital Railway)|
|Locale||East of England|
|Track length||0 miles (0.00 km)|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
The Norfolk Orbital Railway — as the Holt, Melton Constable and Fakenham Railway Company — is a community railway project in Norfolk, England, to investigate and with others put in place a cohesive public transport structure for all who live and work in Norfolk as well as visitors.
The proposed line would link stations at Sheringham and Wymondham on the national rail network by using tracks of the two standard gauge heritage railways in the county, and restoring the former Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway line between Holt and Fakenham, creating a circular route which could be used by passenger services.
|Planned Norfolk Orbital Railway|
The line from Fakenham to Melton Constable was part of the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway's main line from Peterborough to Great Yarmouth. The line from Melton Constable to Holt was part of the M&GN branch line to Cromer.
The main line closed to passengers in February 1959. The branch line remained open, operated as part of the line from Norwich Thorpe, when it was cut back to Sheringham in 1964.
The line from Norwich to Sheringham is part of the National Rail network, marketed as the "Bittern Line". The line from Sheringham to Holt is operated as the North Norfolk Railway. Since March 2010 the two lines have been connected by a "periodic use" level crossing.
The trackbed through Holt, and the original station site, have been used to construct the town's bypass. The trackbed is then mostly clear as far as Melton Constable, although a couple of small homes have been built on the line and some of the formation has been lost to agriculture.
The station site at Melton Constable has been lost to an industrial estate, the platform site now the town's telephone exchange. The station throat, formerly a deep cutting, has been filled and restored to agriculture.
After reversing at Melton, the trackbed is mostly intact as far as Thursford, where it has been lost under a road for a short distance. Close to Fakenham, the formation was affected by quarrying and is now a track through Pensthorpe wildfowl preserve. A diversionary route would avoid this section.
The former Great Eastern branch from Fakenham to County School forms part of the future route of the Mid-Norfolk Railway. It is mostly intact, although the line is blocked at Great Ryburgh by an extension to the town's maltings. The trackbed from County School to Fakenham is in the last stages of protection; this also includes a short M&GNJR spur to the Fakenham gas works. The line from County School to Dereham retains most of its track and is owned by the MNR. The line from Dereham to Wymondham has been restored to passenger standards and carries the heritage services of the MNR.
Track renewal on the single track Network Rail section.
Weybourne on the North Norfolk Railway.
The Holt terminus of the North Norfolk Railway facing Melton Constable.
Closed and lifted M&GN formation near Stody.
County School on the Mid-Norfolk Railway facing Norwich.
Hardingham station, facing Norwich.
Wymondham, Network Rail, facing Norwich.
The company does not plan to own rolling stock. The track would be operated by existing companies.
The Midland & Great Northern section
Although the length of the link is only a few yards the agreement represents a step towards a permanent link and new interchange station. This link is initially available for occasional use (such as charter trains from Norwich and/or London) and for delivery of rolling stock.
The first section of the formation to be purchased by the Norfolk Orbital Railway is located between the North Norfolk Railway's Holt station site and the town bypass, which was built on the railway formation.
The company paid £25,000 for the 50-yard stretch of former track bed, and erected a small sign on a tree to indicate that it is now back in railway ownership.
The Great Eastern section
In 2009 the Norfolk Orbital Railway attempted to secure a section of the railway formation in Fakenham, but was outbid by a London developer who claimed not to know of the project. The land was once again auctioned on 10 December 2014, and was secured for the railway project for £24,000.
- BBC News Article: North Norfolk Railway gets reconnected to National Rail, (last updated 11 March 2010, accessed 11 October 2016)
- News Article: North Norfolk Railway gets reconnected to National Rail (echo of BBC reference)
- News Article: Holt land buy signals ‘vital’ step for Norfolk Orbital railway campaign (Eastern Daily Press)
- News Article: Part of bygone rail network up for sale (Article at fakenhamtimes.co.uk)
- "Opportunity to buy land at Pudding Norton... deadline December 10th 2014". Norfolk Orbital Railway. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
- Norfolk Orbital Railway project gets closer to reviving old link to Fakenham (Eastern Daily Press