A common topic regarding public transport in the West Norfolk area is restoring the former Lynn to Hunstanton branch line.
It is destined to stay as a topic of conversation yet a more viable alternative which could and should be investigated is King’s Lynn to Norwich by rail – it is time to look east.
King’s Lynn was connected to Norwich up until 1968 on the 26.5 mile Lynn to Dereham Railway. Lynn is Norfolk’s third largest population centre and should be linked to Norwich, its largest. This track was lifted in the early ’70s save for a 3.5 mile section which still remains and is used to carry the sand trains.
This 3.5 mile section makes it possible to overcome a major obstacle in building any new railway as a route is there out of Lynn going eastwards.
Further east there is a 23.5 mile gap to fill to get to Dereham of which the route is mostly unobstructed.
In getting to Dereham there is a route owned by the Mid Norfolk Railway (MNR) which connects to Wymondham Abbey which in turn is connected to Wymondham Network Rail a short distance from Norwich. Network Rail are negotiating with the MNR to use that line for a commuter service. This strengthens the case for a connection to Lynn.
To travel from Lynn to Norwich by rail you have to go via Ely which means going south then in a north easterly direction which can often take up to two hours in waiting for connections. The X1 bus service although prompt and regular takes 1 hour 45 minutes.
Benefits do not stop with commuters as this could be used for freight and could help put King’s Lynn port back on the map as it still has a trackbed to it from the station.
Although disused the docks branch has never been legally closed, but suspended.
This branch was a victim of the upgrade of the King’s Lynn line in the early ’90s when it was simultaneously downgraded to single track in two sections between King’s Lynn to Ely thus reducing its capacity.
A rail link to Norwich could pave the way for the docks branch to be revived in order to serve industry in Norwich.
Lynn port lost much of its work when the branch was removed, most notably the coal imports which went to Boston. Network Rail have confirmed that they are upgrading the capacity for half hourly trains which some of could be reserved for freight.
Norfolk is a motorway-less county and its roads are under pressure, therefore having a rail link that accommodates freight and commuters would help relieve pressure. Rail freight is the future.
To prepare for the commuting and logistical challenges of the future, it is time for this to be given serious investigation. It is time for a feasibility study to be called to see if a route can be found to Dereham.
The benefits of such a project serve commuters, business, congestion and would have a positive effect on property prices. Instead of sitting and waiting,it is time to be ready for future challenges by restoring and upgrading infrastructure.