Golden age of steam set to return to Cromer as heritage Poppy Line plans summer service

Transport, trainsCromer High Station as one of the last trains pulled out on Sunday, September 19th,

Transport, trainsCromer High Station as one of the last trains pulled out on Sunday, September 19th, 1954.Photograph C10901

They were the giants of engineering that paved a steely path for thousands of visitors to explore north Norfolk's idyllic coastline.

Cromer High Train Station.

Cromer High Train Station. - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

With their huge wheels, distinctive smell and powerful engines they opened up the district's shores and established the tourism trade that still thrives today.

Cromer railway station.

Cromer railway station.

And now the golden age of steam is set to return to the town where the ground breaking form of transport was first established in the 1800s.

Cromer is planned to become a stop on the North Norfolk Railway (NNR), with steam trains running on the heritage route from Holt along the coast.

Plans to add Cromer to the Poppy Line's timetable have long been in discussion, and the bid is now being discussed by transport chiefs and Greater Anglia.

The project is being driven by the NNR, which already runs a hugely popular service from Sheringham to Holt using resident and visiting vintage locos.

Colin Borg, marketing director, said: 'Cromer has seen occasional steam since the days when it finally shut down in 1964, this would be bringing it back on a regular basis.

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'It's something we've wanted to do for a long time.'

Under the proposals five trains a day would run from Holt to Cromer and back.

They would run on Sundays during the summer - when the mainline from Norwich is not as busy, allowing the vintage locos to fit on the track - and offer at least one lunch service.

The trains would have to be 'top and tailed' with a steam loco at each end as Cromer has no turn around facility, and the engines fitted with a protection and warning system to allow them to run on the mainline.

The 1947-built George Stephenson, currently on the NNR, is already fitted with the system and plans to kit out two other recently restored engines are already in hand.

Mr Borg said Greater Anglia was already supportive of the scheme and the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), which also has to be consulted, could see 'no great obstacles' to the proposal steaming ahead.

He hoped the Cromer service could chuff into action in the 2015 summer season.

As a town that was built on the railway, Mr Borg was excited at the prospect of bringing steam back to its shores and thought the plan was good news for Cromer.

He said: 'An awful lot of people come to Sheringham specifically to ride on the train, and having had their train ride they go into Sheringham and spend money in the town. I guess the same thing will happen when we run to Cromer.

'A lot of the general public, not necessarily the railway enthusiasts, often say 'what a pity we can't go as far as Cromer'.'

Members of the NNR are now waiting for comments from the Department of Transport and ORR. If given the green light Mr Borg thought it would mark the history of the railway coming 'full circle'.

'The railway created tourism in north Norfolk, it made tourism possible by bringing people in,' he added. 'And now, over a 100 years later, we're still sustaining tourism and playing a very important part in it.'