Re-opening Huns'ton rail line need not be just a pipedream

I'D LIKE to warmly thank Brian Holmes and Brian Baylis for supporting the call to re-open the old railway to Hunstanton.

Also, as I have the greatest respect for Ray Bullock and his wealth of railway experience, I welcome this opportunity to answer his questions, along with the concerns of Mr Burrell.

First of all, I want to make it clear that the sole aim of this campaign is to raise public awareness of the staggering potential of a re-opened Lynn-Hunstanton railway, to the point where the case for re-opening it is overwhelming. It is for others to put together a fundraising strategy and operating details.

So yes, Ray, I can unashamedly say I am not a railway engineer or surveyor, but I have done my best to listen to those professionals who have surveyed the line and who reported some very important findings to West Norfolk Council and Norfolk County Council in the early 1990s.

The result of this professional survey was that the Local Plan Consultation Draught of 1993 stated that 97 per cent of the Hunstanton-Lynn section .... is “unaffected by major blockages” (page 86, point 5.49).

By major blockages, it means things like housing estates or a nuclear power station!

So things like open farmland, tarmac covered trackbed or a builders yard are not considered major blockages.

One of the very few major blockages is, of course, Lynnsport, but I can confirm that the council have found and protected a western diversion around Lynnsport, “for future transport planning”, and includes a standard curvature minimum of 200 metres radius, in case a conventional railway is required (Appendix D, Leisure and Tourism Committee, page 13, September 1994). By July 1995, the Local Plan proposal confirmed that “A practical diversionary route at Lynnsport is protected by Borough Council resolution” (chapter 4, point 47).

Then, in the adopted Local Plan of 1998, policy 4/25 states that the council proposes to safeguard the disused trackbed route of the Hunstanton-Lynn railway with regard “to their potential economic and recreational transport routes”.

It actually has double protection, by both the Borough Council and Norfolk County Council.

The single exception to this protection is at Heacham, where the councils recognise there is a genuine blockage, but have indicated that a diversion is feasible.

All the documents referred to are a matter of public record, for everyone to see.

And yes, Ray, it would cost serious money to put in new railway crossings across the roads, but you would be horrified to hear how much a dualled A149 would cost, as it would be much, much more!

No other regeneration proposal for West Norfolk offers such an impressive array of major benefits to our area, as a vibrant re-opened line would.

And because the old line used to be the backbone of West Norfolk, a re-opened line would greatly strengthen our identity as a region.

Why should it be considered a pipedream?

Other councils over the country have helped to re-open lines such as the East Lancashire, the Swanage, the West Somerset, the Llangollen and the North Yorkshire Moors railways, as well as our own Sheringham line, which is going from strength to strength.

Years ago, ALL these were considered pipedreams, but all are now thriving railways and great assets to their communities!

Hunstanton needs major regeneration for the future, after being robbed of so many of its gems.

If the consultants are serious about really listening to the people of Hunstanton about making the rail link and the pier the top priorities, then surely the logical next step is to carry out a professional feasibility study on these issues.

I appeal to the people of Hunstanton to grab this opportunity with both hands.

Come on, Huns’ton, it is your turn to benefit from regeneration now.

SHERIDAN PAYNE, Lynn-Hunstanton Railway Re-opening Campaign