North Norfolk Railway chief speaks out over Norfolk Orbital Railway confusion

The managing director of a heritage railway has urged supporters to continue backing their restoration projects and not confuse them with a separate organisation working in the same area.

Hugh Harkett, managing director of North Norfolk Railway, said people believed a campaign to complete the Norfolk Orbital Railway was being run by his organisation when it was in fact being run by separate entity the Melton Constable Trust.

The Trust wants to extend the line from North Norfolk Railway's present station at High Kelling in to and through Holt.

Mr Harkett said North Norfolk Railway fully supported the plans and would connect the new track to their own at High Kelling when it was built but stressed they were in no way involved with the project.

He said he had spoken with a number of people who had donated money to the Norfolk Orbital Railway believing it was a North Norfolk Railway project.

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'At least three people have come along and said we are going to put some money in to the scheme believing it was part of North Norfolk Railway,' he said. 'The names happen to be very similar so people think we are the same body but we are not. We are not extending our railway but I think people might get that impression.'

Mr Harkett has written a message to North Norfolk Railway supporters in this month's Poppy Lines newsletter in a bid to clarify the situation.

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He said the Norfolk Orbital Railway could take a decade to come to fruition and said donations could be put to better use contributing to one of North Norfolk Railway's own schemes.

'We are running a railway as we speak and we have to make that business pay,' he said. 'It costs a lot to keep the infrastructure right and make improvements and we still rely heavily on volunteers and donations.'

Current projects include the restoration of three Suburban coaches to make up a set of four, remodelling trackwork at Sheringham to cope with increased services, the restoration of a platform canopy and buildings on platform 2 at Sheringham and rebuilding the education facility at Holt.

David Bill, a trustee of the Melton Constable Trust, said: 'We have always made it clear we are a separate entity. All we are trying to do is bring trains back in to Holt and put back the damage that was done in the 1960s.

'One day we want to see trains running all the way from Norwich through to Holt again. It will be of such value to the local economy that it has to be a prize worth aiming for.'

The Trust is trying to raise �250,000 to secure the land necessary to take the line from High Kelling in to and through Holt.

Ultimately the team hopes to restore the line beyond Holt, through Melton Constable and Fakenham to join the Mid Norfolk Railway to Dereham and Wymondham, with exisitng Network Rail lines, to eventually create the Norfolk orbital Railway.

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