Rail revival will rescue ailing Norfolk region, say campaigners
Early reinstatement of the railway from King’s Lynn to Hunstanton is essential for the economic survival of communities along the North West Norfolk coast, it was claimed at the high-profile public launch of a revival scheme in December.
There are proposals for a brand new Hunstanton Parkway station at a new site on the eastern edge of the resort, to attract passenger traffic from a wide catchment area.
It might also be possible to serve King’s Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital (the locality’s biggest employer with 2,400 staff), while the revival of mineral traffic is also a possibility. It is suggested that the project might cost £150 million.
Since the momentum was created by Ely-based pro-rail campaigner Georgina Turner in the summer, there has been enthusiastic political support including from local MP Sir Henry Bellingham.
This has spurred the King’s Lynn-Hunstanton Railway Project to start preparing a business case to persuade Norfolk County Council and the local borough council to adopt the scheme, as well as secure interest from the Local Enterprise Partnership, Government and Network Rail.
The original 15¼-mile former Great Eastern line along the eastern side of the Wash was never listed by Beeching for closure, but was nevertheless abandoned in September 1969. It had suffered badly from the withdrawal of through trains from London Liverpool Street, and the removal of run-round facilities at Hunstanton prevented the arrival of excursions.
North West Norfolk is now listed by the Government as one of the UK’s worst employment blackspots for young people.
And the A149 road, the only corridor to the commuter villages of Dersingham, Snettisham and Heacham, regularly seizes up at weekends and at the height of the summer season.
It is envisaged that the ‘new’ railway to Hunstanton would be on a fresh alignment in several places, possibly leaving King’s Lynn from the mothballed docks branch.
Alternatively, exiting over part of the current short Middleton Towers freight line would enable it to go past the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
While most of the original stations survive in private ownership, there has been major housing encroachment at Heacham, so a bypass here in inevitable.
The original line is historically linked with the Royal Family, who once used the ornate station at Wolferton (now partly a museum) to reach Sandringham House.