North Norfolk Railway at Sheringham reveals a record-breaking year

A Norfolk tourist attraction has defied the downturn - and cashed in on staycations - by reporting a record year of visitors.

In 2011, North Norfolk Railway carried more than 150,000 people for the first time in a single year. The final figure of 150,497 was 5pc up on 2010, which was itself 13pc up on 2009.

The figures are thought to be partly down to the growing numbers of people who are opting to save their money by taking holidays in the UK or having a series of short, local breaks.

North Norfolk Railway is based behind Sheringham's Station Car Park, with steam trains running along a 10-mile track via Weybourne to Holt.

Director of marketing Colin Borg said: 'Coming on top of a 13pc increase in 2010, the record result is a tribute to our volunteers who operated an intensive programme of services and special events throughout the year.

'It emphasises the importance of the Poppy Line to the tourist economy of North Norfolk.'

Mr Borg added that the passenger figure did not include an estimated 5-6,000 people who visited the railway but did not travel on a train.

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He said the railway's decision to peg fares and run more trains in the months on the fringes of the peak season was instrumental in attracting visitors, and special events like the 1940s weekend in September broke previous records.

And he said: 'Like the rest of Norfolk, we have done well from staycation holidaymakers. There are more people around in the area.

'And we do offer remarkable value for money. For �10.50 an adult can ride on as many trains as they like throughout the day. It's a whole day out at a very reasonable price.'

Mr Borg said it was possible to keep the prices low because 95pc of the railway's staff were volunteers.

And he said the fact that the line steamed through the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - a point raised by Michael Palin in his recollections of childhood holidays in Sheringham - was another attraction for visitors.

The new season begins at North Norfolk Railway in the February half-term week. Fares have again been held to 2009 levels.

Mr Borg said the programme of special events had been expanded, with Titfield Thunderbolt Live set to be a major attraction over three days in June, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the classic Ealing comedy film.