Steam train hope for Mid Norfolk Railway

More than 120 years after the first railways brought rail travel to Norfolk a steam renaissance is gripping the county's longest - and shortest - preservation railway lines.

More than 120 years after the first railways brought rail travel to Norfolk a steam renaissance is gripping the county's longest - and shortest - preservation railway lines.

The Mid Norfolk Railway - one of the longest preserved railways in the UK - could soon have its own steam train as a permanent fixture chugging between Dereham and Wymondham.

The line has only ever been able to afford steam trains on loan for short periods.

But now 12 of its members have clubbed together to buy a steam train for year-round use on the track alongside the line's diesel engines.


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A new limited company has been set up to buy the train and they also hope to create a charity to help restore and then run it on the line.

It comes as another recently created preservation line - possibly Norfolk's shortest at just 1,500ft - is preparing to steam-up at the end of this month.

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The Whitwell and Reepham Station near Reepham in north Norfolk is set to play host to a steam train from the North Norfolk Railway less than a year after it was bought at auction as a near derelict site - without track.

Its new owner, enthusiast Mike Urry, and a band of volunteers have laid more than 1,500ft of line ready for a special event running from February 28 to commemorate the closure of the station 50 years ago.

It may seem like boys and their rather large toys, but for both groups it is recreating a slice of history.

Vic Ward, leader of the Mid Norfolk Railway steam train bid, also launched last year, said: 'I'd like to see a steam loco running from Dereham to Wymondham on a regular basis.

'Very few preserved railway lines own the trains because of the money involved.

'This is about the only way they are going to be able to do it. It would be the chance of a resident loco at a reasonable hire cost.

'We now have sufficient money to go and buy one but we want to get charitable status so we can get money in an account to pay for the restoration and running costs and benefit from giftaid.

'It is just a matter now of looking for a suitable loco.'

The plan is for the group to do most of the restoration work themselves - except work on the boiler, which requires specialist skills.

They also already have a site where they can kept the train while it is under repair.

It is hoped to buy a J94 type steam train - known as 060 saddle tanks.

They are small engines but big enough to pull a passenger service. They were mostly used in the private sector for jobs like moving coal for power stations, but would have also been used by British Rail.

In the mean time to MNR is hoping to keep hiring steam trains. It is hoped they can hire one in Spring and another in Summer.

But at �400 to in excess of �7,000 per day, it may still be some time until steam is a permanent fixture on the line.

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