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Popular Poppy Line back and receives £46,500 grant ahead of reopening

PUBLISHED: 15:47 02 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:46 02 July 2020

The North Norfolk Railway Spring Steam Gala in 2019. Picture: TIM GROVES

The North Norfolk Railway Spring Steam Gala in 2019. Picture: TIM GROVES

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A popular heritage steam railway has received a grant of £46,500 towards reinstating train services, ahead of its reopening on Wednesday, July 8.

The Austerity Class steam locomotive, The Royal Norfolk Regiment, took passengers on a fundraising journey on the North Norfolk Railway. Picture: NNRThe Austerity Class steam locomotive, The Royal Norfolk Regiment, took passengers on a fundraising journey on the North Norfolk Railway. Picture: NNR

The North Norfolk Railway (NNR) has suffered loss of income due to the coronavirus lockdown.

The railway could not introduce its summer season operation at the beginning of April, and has been unable to operate services since.

The grant from the National Heritage Lottery Fund (NHLF) Emergency appeal will go towards the reinstatement of passenger train services from July 8.

It’s part of a £50m package put together by the NHLF designed specifically to support the heritage sector.

From left, Paul O'Brien, James Quinlan and Ray Webb in front of the Class Y14 locomotive on the North Norfolk Railway at Holt Station. Picture: Stuart AndersonFrom left, Paul O'Brien, James Quinlan and Ray Webb in front of the Class Y14 locomotive on the North Norfolk Railway at Holt Station. Picture: Stuart Anderson

The railway’s managing director Hugh Harkett said: “We are grateful to obtain this NHLF grant which will help us bring the right people in early enough to get our train and infrastructure ready for July 8 services.

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“We need to thoroughly test our infrastructure, permanent way and signalling, ensure our rolling stock is fully fit to run and check and run in our steam locos which have not run since March.

“This entails up front expenditure, a large part of which is personnel at a time when we do not have the spare cash available owing to the lockdown.”

Norfolk Lights Express on the North Niorfolk Railway. Picture: Brad Damms PhotographyNorfolk Lights Express on the North Niorfolk Railway. Picture: Brad Damms Photography

It follows a survey in which 82pc of respondents in the sector said that the coronavirus outbreak posed a high or moderate risk to their organisations’ long-term viability.

The railway’s timetable will be restricted initially to four trains a day departing from Sheringham for round trips to Holt and must be prebooked.

Weybourne station will remain closed while Holt station will not be accessible other than from the train.

Mr Harkett added: “This is very much a limited service to see how things turn out and how many people want to travel on our lovely Poppy Line.

“We are also being very cautious and ensuring that everyone stays safe and healthy which is why we are putting each group (single traveller too) into their very own compartment. We are maintaining a two-metre social distancing and treating the whole train inside and out with a special spray that combats coronavirus.”


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