Rail line revival plans gather pace

This model train station and its tiny trains would not look out of place in Thomas the Tank Engine books.

But in fact the photograph shows how ambitious plans to open up part of a long-gone Suffolk railway line will look if they gain planning permission.

The image protrays how the former station at Wenhaston, near Southwold, could be brought back to life again after more than 81 years by the Southwold Railway Trust.

Since 1994 the trust has been exploring whether the Victorian Southwold-Halesworth 3ft gauge branch line, via Wenhaston, Blythburgh and Walberswick, could be reopened.

In 2007 the trust submitted a plan for a slighlty revised version of the whole of the orginal route which operated between 1879 to 1929 and closed due to stiff competiton from buses. But the scheme came of the rails after it was rejected by Waveney District Council.

But the trust is now building up a new head of steam as it hopes to submit a planning application to the council next year to recreate Wenhaston station on a nearby site. The plans will also see half a mile of track created as well.

If approved it is hoped the days of elegant Victorian travel will be resurrected as the trust has plans to have a diesel locomotive trundling its way around Wenhaston.

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Laballed the Southwold Railway Heritage Project, the station blueprint also includes an engine shed, workshop and visitor centre.

The plans will be submitted after a thorough wildlife survey early next year to see if any animals, plants or habitats will be affected by the scheme.

Residents of Wenhaston are also being asked to have their say on the project.

On its website the Southwold Railyway Trust says: 'We were delighted to be able to present our plans for reinstating part of the Southwold Railway adjacent to the original station site at Wenhaston.

'There was much positive feedback from local residents and we have been able to address some of the issues raised.'

As well as a promise of Simplex 0-4-0 diesel locomotive for the project, the trust purchased a tram carriage last month as part of its railway revival project.

The former early 20th century Belgian tram was bought from Fintown Railway in Donegal, Ireland, and will be restored from next year.

The 200 plus members of the Southwold Railway Trust are hoping to seek inspiration for their Wenhaston revival quest by the successful ressurrection of the Welsh Highland Line which recieved a grant from the Welsh Assembly.

Trust chairman John Bennett said: 'We have seen that impossible dreams can become a reality in Wales.

'The Southwold railway has a unique place in English railway history and we aim to bring it back from the dead.'

Anyone who wants to support the project or become involved in the trust should visit www.southwoldrailway.co.uk