Hunstanton's rail link must be restored to ensure the town's future prosperity, a meeting heard.

West Norfolk councillors tonight received a presentation from the King's Lynn to Hunstanton Railway Campaign.

The group, formed last year, says re-opening the line would help cut congestion on the A149 and would have 'compelling economic benefits'.

Howard Johnston, a railway expert and advisor to the campaign group said 4,064 people have signed a petition calling for the return of the railway.

He said Hunstanton would face 'serious problems' if its connectivity was not improved within the next 10 years. Journey times between coastal communities, King's Lynn and Cambridge.

'We need better, more and simpler travel choices for everyone,' he said. 'We need reliable, seamless and quicker journeys.'

Mr Johnston said a rail revival was taking place, with many schemes being promoted by local councils.

'I'm totally at a loss why West Norfolk is conspicuously not making any noise at all on this front,' he said.

Mr Johnston said putting the railway back would help stem an exodus of young people from the town.

'We have care homes springing up everywhere but I'm told they can't recruit staff because they don't want to travel to Hunstanton,' he said.

Much of the original track bed, where the line ran via Wolferton, Snettisham and Heacham, remains undeveloped.

Mr Johnston said there was space for a 're-aligned' line which would serve growing communities along its route.

He said the route lacked bridges, tunnels, viaducts and other expensive features. He added over its 50-year lifespan, a £100m railway would work out at £2m a year.

'A brand new railway is both affordable and physically achievable,' he said. He asked the committee to recommend to cabinet the council get behind it.

Councillors expressed support for the scheme. Chairman Peter Gidney said: 'We can only note the report today with great interest but I hope we meet again.'

Originally built in the 1860s, the line helped set Hunstanton on course to become a booming seaside resort.

In its heyday, packed trains brought factory workers from the Midlands to enjoy their holidays on the coast.

But as car ownership grew in post-war years, passenger numbers declined. The line was eventually closed down in May, 1969.