‘Biggest game changer in a generation’ - campaigners hail £100m rail plan
PUBLISHED: 06:30 03 July 2020 | UPDATED: 10:05 04 July 2020
Archant/Norfolk County Council
The potential reintroduction of rail services between two Norfolk towns has been hailed by campaigners as the “biggest game changer in a generation”.
A bid to reopen the railway from King’s Lynn to Hunstanton took a significant step forward this week with its inclusion in a national shortlist of restoration schemes.
Fifty bidders across England and Wales have applied to the Department for Transport for a slice of the Restoring Your Railway Fund, aimed at advancing proposals to build or reintroduce lines and stations.
Lynn to Hunstanton is one of two East Anglian submissions in the running, with the other - a proposal to regenerate the Wymondham to Dereham line - also in Norfolk.
Leading the charge in west Norfolk is the King’s Lynn to Hunstanton Rail Group, whose campaigning brought Norfolk County Council and MP James Wild on board with the project - which could cost £100m.
Their case highlights the easing of traffic congestion on the A149 and improved access to Cambridge and London as key benefits.
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Howard Johnston, advisor to the group, said: “Boris Johnson has said he wants to equalise the economies of isolated areas such as west Norfolk, and this ticks all his boxes.
“People have always said the railway can never come back, but we hope to overcome the misconceptions when we approach local councils to brief them on the latest developments.
“Our report has four options for where new track can go, so this does not mean using the old alignment where so many buildings have sprung up over the last 51 years.”
Many of the submitted bids are focused on bringing back facilities closed during the Beeching cuts of 1963, which saw Britains’s railway network dramatically reduced.
The Lynn to Hunstanton line, which helped the seaside resort become a booming tourist destination, escaped the Beeching cull, but it was closed in 1969.
Andrew Jamieson, county councillor for Hunstanton, hailed the project as “something that will completely turn the local economy round with access to jobs, retaining our young people, increasing tourism, and getting to hospitals faster and easier.”
He added: “Opening up the employment market in Cambridge, and maybe London, will one be the biggest game changers in our area in a generation.”
An announcement on successful projects is expected later this summer.
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