Anger and tears at ‘totally pointless’ vandalism at Mid Norfolk Railway station in Dereham
PUBLISHED: 11:25 15 August 2017 | UPDATED: 20:07 15 August 2017
Heritage railway staff have been left distraught after vandals caused several thousands of pounds worth of damage to vintage carriages.
Culprits broke into the locked carriages in sidings at the Mid Norfolk Railway’s Dereham station, picked up fire extinguishers and used them to smash windows inside and out leaving a sea of glass on the floor and seats.
The heartbroken volunteers also found interior fittings broken and estimate it will cost them at least £20,000 to complete the repairs.
Railway chairman Charlie Robinson said it was a “totally pointless” act and there was “nothing to be gained” from it.
“We think it will cost £20,000 to repair the damage but it could be more as it depends on what we can salvage,” he said. “Some of the really bad carriages may have to be sent away to be repaired and that will cost us £3,000 for transport.”
The upkeep and expansion of the railway line, which currently runs diesel and steam passenger trains between Dereham and Wymondham, is funded entirely by ticket purchases and special events.
“This has not helped us at all,” said Mr Robinson. “It is very depressing, in fact one or two members almost burst into tears when they saw what had happened.
“You just start getting everything looking nice and it is destroyed.”
He said steps were being taken to make the railway more secure with CCTV cameras now recording the line.
“I know if people are determined to do damage they will do it,” he said. “But we have to try and deter or catch those responsible. This is also costing a lot of extra money which we would rather be spending on railway work.”
Currently the team is extending the line to North Elmham and hope the new section will be in use for works trains by Christmas and for passengers to go as far as Worthing crossing.
Mr Robinson said after the vandalism, which happened some time overnight on Friday, July 28, police spent several hours dusting for fingerprints.
“Whoever did the damage cut themselves so they have found blood samples,” he said.
Any witnesses or anyone with information should call PC Luke Soar at Dereham Police Station on 101.
‘Not the place to go for a wander’
Mid Norfolk Railway chairman Charlie Robinson said they had also come across teenagers and children trespassing at Dereham station and walking in and around trains in the sidings.
“While they are not necessarily the ones doing the damage we are concerned about them as they may be assuming that trains are not running,” he said.
“Trains are moved around quite frequently even on non-running days.
“We do notice an increase in children around in the school holidays, looking for something to do, but they need to keep away as they won’t know if a train is going to suddenly move and we might not spot them in time.
“We may be a heritage line but it is not the place to go for a wander.”
He said they had asked the youngsters to leave but said parents needed to reinforce their warnings about the dangers.
“We don’t want any accidents,” he said.