Downham Market station cafe ‘set to remain closed for at least six months’

The Railway Arms at Downham Market train station

The Railway Arms at Downham Market train station

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A popular Downham bar and cafe is likely to remain closed for several more months while repairs are carried out, its owners have warned.

Talks have taken place over the future of the former Railway Arms premises at the town’s rail station.

And company bosses say they want another local operator to take over the site when work is complete.

The building has been left empty since its previous operators gave up the lease last October in a dispute over rents.

Representatives of the Govia Thameslink rail company, which owns the premises, met local MP Liz Truss, town councillors and representatives of the Fen Line Users Association in the town last Friday to discuss its future.

And, while the current repairs mean a new business is unlikely to begin operating there until at least July, the company has said it would seek a deal that benefited all parties.

Ms Truss welcomed the operator’s commitment to finding a locally-based operator for the site once the repairs are complete.

But she also urged them to speed up the work and pledged she would work with them to move the scheme forward.

She said: “The Railway Arms and café proved to be a fantastic asset to the station and town, welcoming visitors and local residents.

“It is important that the special character is maintained whilst also offering an excellent opportunity for a new business venture.”

Ms Truss also called on Govia, which is the parent company of Great Northern, the operator of most of West Norfolk’s passenger train services, to re-open the station’s waiting room.

The company has said it will look into the issue.

Rail industry officials are expected to return to Downham next week for the second rail summit, hosted by Ms Truss, to discuss what progress has been made in recent months towards improvements in train services and track infrastructure.