Major boost for £100m campaign to reintroduce rail travel between two Norfolk towns
- Credit: Ian Burt
A £100m rail project hailed as the “biggest game changer in a generation” for Norfolk has been handed a major boost.
The bid to reopen the railway between King’s Lynn and Hunstanton took another step forward this week, with the government asking campaigners to submit further details to strengthen the case for funding.
In July, the proposal was included in a national shortlist of restoration schemes, each vying for a slice of the Restoring Your Railway Fund.
Lynn to Hunstanton was one of two East Anglian submissions in the running, with the other - a proposal to regenerate the Wymondham to Dereham line - also in Norfolk.
Leading the charge in west Norfolk is the King’s Lynn to Hunstanton Rail Group, whose campaigning has brought Norfolk County Council (NCC) and MP James Wild on board.
And now Mr Wild, member for North West Norfolk, has received a letter from transport minster Chris Heaton-Harris saying the case "needs strengthening", adding "it is great that the proposal has potential."
David Cumming, NCC's strategic transport team manager, said: "It is encouraging that government recognises the potential of the proposal.
"We look forward to participating in workshop sessions that it is arranging, which will help us to understand our next steps."
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The government's fund is focused on bringing back facilities closed during the Beeching cuts of 1963, which saw Britains’s railway network dramatically reduced.
The Lynn to Hunstanton line, which helped the seaside resort become a booming tourist destination, escaped the Beeching cull, but it was closed in 1969.
On Friday, it was announced 15 smaller schemes - mainly in the north of England and Midlands - had been awarded up to £50,000 each, meaning none in the south east or East Anglia have thus far been successful.
The government has queried what a specific benefits a railway will bring to King’s Lynn and Hunstanton, as well as communities along the line and other nearby towns.
Officials have also asked for more data on overcrowding of the present road network, how many level crossings would be needed and any risks to coastal flooding.
Campaigners have highlighted the easing of traffic congestion on the A149 and improved access to Cambridge and London as key benefits.