Norfolk Orbital Railway

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The Holt, Melton Constable and Fakenham Railway Company (Norfolk Orbital Railway)
TypeRegional rail
LocaleEast of England
Track length0 miles (0.00 km)
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Route map
Cromer Beach
To Norwich via
Bittern Line
West Runton
Occasional use level crossing
over Station Road
Sheringham (NNR)
Weybourne (NNR)
Kelling Heath Halt (NNR)
Holt (NNR)
Melton Constable
County School (MNR)
North Elmham (MNR)
Dereham (MNR)
Yaxham (MNR)
Thuxton (MNR)
Hardingham (MNR)
Kimberley Park (MNR)
Wymondham Abbey (MNR)
Breckland Line
Map showing the planned route.

The Norfolk Orbital Railway — as the Holt, Melton Constable and Fakenham Railway Company — is a proposed rail project in Norfolk, England, which is proposed to look at bringing a new rail connection to North and Mid Norfolk.

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. [1]

The heritage lines affected are Mid-Norfolk Railway and the North Norfolk Railway, with the route including stations on both of these lines as well as on part of National Rail network and on a disused section between County School and Holt.


The line from Fakenham to Melton Constable was built by the Lynn and Fakenham Railway, later 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 section between County School and Fakenham was part of the Norfolk Railway, later the Great Eastern Railway Wymondham to Wells Branch.

The M&GN 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 passenger service on the GER line from Fakenham ended in 1964, with the line finally closing in the 1980s. In January 2019, Campaign for Better Transport released a report listing the line as Priority 2 for reopening, with Priority 2 being described as "feasible projects which require further development or changed circumstances (for example, housing development proposals) to assist them in being taken forward".[2] The route south from Fakenham, forming part of this scheme, is protected by North Norfolk District Council from any development that would be prejudicial to the restoration of a railway line[3]

The route is planned to run from Sheringham to Dereham via Holt and Fakenham.[4]


The Midland & Great Northern section[edit]

The Sheringham link[edit]

After 36 years the Bittern line was reconnected to the North Norfolk Railway via an "occasional use" link between the Network Rail station and the North Norfolk Railway's tracks.

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 crossing was opened on 11 March 2010, after two months of work.[5]

The Holt link[edit]

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,[6] and erected a small sign on a tree to indicate that it is now back in railway ownership. The section of fomrmation was cleared of vegetation in 2016 [7]

The Great Eastern section[edit]

Fakenham Land[edit]

In 2009 the Norfolk Orbital Railway attempted to secure a section of the railway formation in Fakenham,[8] 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.[9][10]

In 2016 the project was awarded £60,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help repair the Fakenham bridges, provide an education resource, equipment for the Fakenham Area Conservation Team and to create a walk along the preserved formation for people to enjoy. The walkway is currently maintained by the conservation team, but has also suffered from the attention of local vandals.[11] In August 2019 the Lottery-funded restoration of the formation was completed, with local councillors and land-owners invited to a meeting at County School railway station, followed by a tour of the restored formation footpath.[12]


  1. ^ Tullett, Andrew (24 April 2019). "Norfolk on a stick: Could the railway come full circle to Melton Constable?". Eastern Daily Press.
  2. ^ The Case for Expanding The Rail Network p.42
  3. ^ Policy CT7 Safeguarding Land for Sustainable Transport Uses.
  4. ^ "Map of proposed route".
  5. ^ Keller, David (11 March 2010). "North Norfolk Railway gets reconnected to National Rail". BBC News. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  6. ^ Clapham, Lucy (15 August 2013). "Holt land buy signals 'vital' step for Norfolk Orbital railway campaign". Eastern Daily Press.
  7. ^ Jermy, Miles (7 November 2016). "Dream of restoring railway to Holt moves nearer to reality". Eastern Evening News.
  8. ^ "Part of bygone rail network up for sale". Fakenham & Wells Times. 7 July 2010.
  9. ^ "Opportunity to buy land at Pudding Norton... deadline December 10th 2014". Norfolk Orbital Railway. Archived from the original on 5 December 2014. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  10. ^ Scotter, Kate (15 December 2014). "Norfolk Orbital Railway project gets closer to reviving old link to Fakenham". Eastern Daily Press.
  11. ^ | Railway project will steam ahead despite another set back as vandals strike again
  12. ^ Farmer, Matthew (31 August 2019). "Keeping plans to bring back the railway on track". Fakenham Times.

External links and references[edit]