Railway backers take stride towards new Holt link
- Credit: Brittany Woodman
The dream of seeing trains huff and puff their way back into Holt is a step closer to reality.
The Melton Constable Trust has just bought a key section of land - around 180 metres long - which, along with another section purchased several years ago, could lead to heritage and main-line trains once again connecting to a station in the town.
Trevor Bailey, trust chairman, said: "It is difficult to overstate the significance of this new land purchase.
"If this part of the route had been lost that would have been the end of the Holt section of our project.
"There is simply nowhere else that the railway could go. Now it is safe."
The two sections together cost about £150,000 and were bought from the county council and a private landholder.
Derek Haynes, a trustee, said the purchase would not have been possible without community support, as well as funding they have received from the National Heritage Lottery Fund.
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Mr Haynes said: “The money for much of what we are doing has come directly from the public.
"We have a large and growing body of supporters and always welcome more.
"What we need now is wholehearted backing from the authorities, local and national.”
The trust’s aim is to restore a rail service to parts of Norfolk that suffered from closures in the Beeching Cuts of the 1960s and form a new Norfolk Orbital Railway.
An important step would be extending the railway line from the North Norfolk Railway's station at Kelling Heath into Holt, which could then one day be linked with the Mid Norfolk Railway’s County School Station and Fakenham.
The trust already owns a lengthy part of the route into Fakenham, complete with two bridges.
Mr Bailey added: "The North Norfolk Railway has done wonders in bringing its railway from Sheringham to High Kelling to its present excellent condition and our colleagues at the Mid Norfolk Railway have brought their Wymondham to Dereham line from dereliction to a fully functioning railway which is actively extending northwards towards Fakenham.
"Network Rail’s Bittern Line from Norwich to Sheringham has increased its passenger figures massively.
"Some of us grew up in the area and, in the 1960s, were involved in saving what are now very successful railways. We know that this is the moment for a real rail revival.”