Norfolk Orbital Railway campaigners stress importance of maintaining line’s heritage

07:19 27 January 2014

North Norfolk Railway Steam Gala 2013. The Oliver Cromwell at Sheringham Station. 

North Norfolk Railway Steam Gala 2013. The Oliver Cromwell at Sheringham Station. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2013

Maintaining the heritage of north Norfolk’s railway has been highlighted by campaigners behind an ambitious project to bring trains back into Holt town centre.

Enthusiasts spearheading the Norfolk Orbital Railway plan have spoken about their desire to protect the line’s history, amid suggestions hoped-for commuter trains could detract from the heritage service run by the North Norfolk Railway (NNR).

The orbital project is being led by the Melton Constable Trust, which hopes to extend the track into the heart of Holt, bringing regular services from Cromer, and eventually continue it into the rest of the county.

Services would be linked by track owned by the NNR, which runs vintage locos from Sheringham to Holt and has stressed it does not want to compromise its timetable.

But David Bill, trustee of the constable trust, said he wants the two to complement each other.

“What matters is the ability to take people from A to B, and personally I’m not too worried about what those trains look like,” he said.

“The diesel rail cars which are presently used on the NNR are identical to the diesel rail cars that ran into Holt all those years ago.”

Mr Bill has long-established links to the line and said protecting its history was of personal importance to him.

He added: “To me the heritage of the railway is as important as anything else and nobody feels more strongly about the heritage than I do.”

The orbital scheme has taken another step forward with the purchase of a further 50 yards of former track bed, and Mr Bill said the trust was now concentrating on buying more land.

Colin Borg, NNR marketing director, said the Poppy Line was “broadly supportive” of the orbital scheme and would love to see trains steaming back into Holt.

“We’ve talked about maybe running an (orbital) train early in the morning through to the new station and return in the evening, but the board are absolutely determined that steam heritage services will be the primary service from Sheringham to Holt.”

For details about how you can support the orbital scheme visit

For more information about the NNR visit


  • The North Norfolk Railway gets a lot of help and financial support from the people of Norfolk and in return should allow its metals to be used for a regular service from Holt town [and points west in due course] at least to Cromer and ultimately through to Norwich. A faster modern diesel service could precede a slower heritage service in the timetable.

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    Monday, January 27, 2014

  • More spelling mistakes from EDP24's illiterate sub editors!!

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    Monday, January 27, 2014

  • An orbital connection would make for better funding and improve the existing NNR, surely. It also makes sense to run attractive historic engines in Norfolk, because tourism is one of our biggest economic asset. If we decide to do it, lets support it fully and integrate it with buses and other trains arriving in Norfolk, so it can also be used for commuter transport.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Monday, January 27, 2014

  • The NNR and the Mid-Norfolk Railway both earn the majority of their revenue from summer tourist traffic and special events such as Santa Specials and steamdiesel galas. This must not be compromised by any public transport services.

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    Monday, January 27, 2014

  • This is surely a "win win" for the NNR - someone else builds the line into Holt town, they get to run their steam trains along it and just have to allow morning and evening commuter trains to use their line. There is a published agreement to that effect. Mr Borg keeps popping up to express his concerns about the purity of NNR's offer but they themselves are negotiating to run their trains to Cromer where they will have to "mix" with the (very) slightly more modern trains of GA and this doesn't seem to worry them.

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    Monday, January 27, 2014

  • According to this report and information already in the public domain the NNR would only allow two trains each day to access the new piece of track into Holt town centre. Is this really worth the cost and civil engineering required to built a short piece of track into Holt, and provide a very basic station there. How much will it cost to install a bridge over the old Cromer Road south of the NNR terminus and maintain it and the additional track, just for two holiday period trains each day, one before 1000hrs and the other after 1700hrs. The money would be better spent on important things like cancer research.

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    Port Watcher

    Monday, January 27, 2014

  • sounds like Dr Beeching has come back and joined the NNR in these days I would have thought it a good idea to link both railways and continue across the county. after all it would help all these second home owners get to their holidays and possibly put a bit more money in the pockets of NNR. but then it could mean more commuters to complain about the train delays so maybe not a good idea.

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    i am mostly wrong??

    Monday, January 27, 2014

  • ingo wagenknecht - I agree with you wholeheartedly about the need to preserve and expand both tourism and public transport. North Norfolk has very little going for it other than its scenery and bird-life and needs to use any and everything to ensure it remains attractive to visitors and residents alike. Public transport is regrettably the poor relation when it comes to funding and preserved railways can offer a useful role in attracting tourists AND moving locals around if they are given the right support. Regrettably, the naysayers in Norfolk and especially in Holt have done little, if anything, to encourage tourism, instead preferring to believe that Holt's future prosperity lies in encouraging yet more housing and supermarkets. With the present risk that parts of the the North Norfolk coast might be allowed to become salt marshes there is a very real risk that tourism and bird watching could be damaged, so you'd think that anything which could limit that type of risk would be encouraged?

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    Monday, January 27, 2014

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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