Ambitious attempts to reopen a stretch of Norfolk railway shut for decades have been handed a boost after the project was included in a document outlining the region's long-term transport strategy.

The bid to restore the line from King's Lynn to Hunstanton is among more than 50 schemes included in a wish-list to improve roads, rail, airports and ports across the region.

The inclusion of the project in Transport East's Transport Strategy raises the prospect that, should money become available, new life could be breathed into a rail line closed since 1969.

Backers of the project believe the line would bring an economic and environmental boost in an area of significant population growth.

Transport East - made up of local councils, Local Enterprise Partnerships and businesses across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex - will use the strategy to make the case to the government for investment in a number of schemes up to 2050.

Bids for millions of pounds to explore the reopening of the line, along with a feasibility study into a regular passenger service from Dereham to Wymondham - on the line currently run by Mid Norfolk Railway - were previously lodged with the government.

Money was sought from the Department for Transport's Restoring Your Railway scheme.

Eastern Daily Press: James Wild, North West Norfolk MPJames Wild, North West Norfolk MP (Image: Archant)

Those bids - with North West Norfolk MP James Wild and Andrew Jamieson, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for finance among the backers of the Hunstanton to King's Lynn bid - were not successful and the Restoring Your Railway has now come to an end.

Eastern Daily Press: Andrew Jamieson, cabinet member for finance at Norfolk County Council. Pic: Norfolk County Council.Andrew Jamieson, cabinet member for finance at Norfolk County Council. Pic: Norfolk County Council. (Image: Norfolk County Council)

But council leaders still hope money will be forthcoming in the future, so the inclusion in the plan is significant.

The strategy also includes projects such as the £251m Norwich Western Link, the A140 Long Stratton Bypass, the dualling of the A47 Acle Straight and dualling the A47 from Tilney to East Winch.

Members of Norfolk County Council's infrastructure and development select committee had been due to endorse Transport East's strategy at a meeting on Wednesday, September 14.

However, with the Conservative-controlled council having cancelled all meetings this week due to the period of mourning following the death of the Queen, a decision will be made when the committee meeting is rescheduled.

Eastern Daily Press: Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transportMartin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport (Image: Archant 2021)

But Martin Wilby, Conservative-controlled Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport and vice-chairman of the Transport East Forum, said the strategy would help keep the heat on the government to provide money to East Anglia.

He said: “We’ve been working closely with partners to keep the pressure on national government to deliver the transport improvements we need to support the eastern region, a part of the country that adds value to the tune of £73.5bn to the national economy.

"The report not only reaffirms commitment to a number of schemes in Norfolk including the A140 Long Stratton bypass, but also sets the sights on where we’d like to see future investment.

"The strategy supports reopening new rail lines through the Restoring Your Railway programme which includes King’s Lynn to Hunstanton, and Wymondham to Dereham.

"Having a clear vision, that also fits with the county council’s own strategies, means we can be ready to bid for and secure funding when it becomes available, as was the case recently for Norfolk’s £49.5m better bus funding from the government.

“Achieving the net zero carbon goal is a particular focus of the strategy, which identifies boosting active travel and public transport, better links between different modes of transport, and improved links for rural, urban and coastal areas as a key aims."

Eastern Daily Press: How Dereham Railway Station used to lookHow Dereham Railway Station used to look (Image: Archant)


Originally built in the 1860s, the King’s Lynn to Hunstanton line set the seaside resort on course to become a booming tourist destination.

After Queen Victoria bought the nearby Sandringham estate for her son, later King Edward VII, the line's Wolferton station was used by members of the Royal Family and visiting dignitaries.

Other stations were at Wootton, Dersingham, Snetterton and Heacham, and an extension to Wells was also built.

Passenger numbers declined in the post-war years, but the station avoided Dr Richard Beeching's axe, when the chairman of British Rail carried out his report identifying more than 2,000 stations and 5,000 miles of railway line fit for closure.

Eastern Daily Press: Dr Richard BeechingDr Richard Beeching (Image: Press Association)

However, the line's days were numbered and it was eventually closed in 1969.

Eastern Daily Press: Mid Norfolk Railway runs services on the line from Dereham to WymondhamMid Norfolk Railway runs services on the line from Dereham to Wymondham (Image: Archant)

The Dereham to Wymondham line also shut in 1969. although the Mid-Norfolk Railway Preservation Trust has restored it and the Mid Norfolk Railway runs heritage services on it.