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Mike Beckett discusses newly published book ‘The Cambridge to King's Lynn Line 30 Years of Electrification’

A railway enthusiast hopes his new book about the Lynn-Cambridge line can spark renewed interest in the subject.

Mike Beckett had ‘The Cambridge to King's Lynn Line 30 Years of Electrification’ released by Amberley Publishing in August, marking three decades since that process took place.

Mr Beckett worked as a strategic planner at West Norfolk Council at the time of the electrification campaign. With a personal and professional interest in transport, he maintained a photographic record of the line’s many changes.

Mike Beckett is the author of 'The Cambridge to King's Lynn Line: 30 Years of Electrification'
Mike Beckett is the author of 'The Cambridge to King's Lynn Line: 30 Years of Electrification'

In the mid-1980s, the future of the Cambridge–Lynn ‘Fen Line’ looked bleak – with talks taking place about potentially closing it.

Yet, following a vigorous three-year political and technical campaign, Government approval for its electrification was granted in February 1989.

Construction work was drawn out and suffered setbacks, so it wasn’t until August 1992 that electric trains finally started operating on the 41-mile-long line.

Extensive works to upgrade the line to take longer trains have since taken place. As well as a new Cambridge North, there are well-developed plans for other new stations.

Concentrating on areas mainly north of Cambridge, the book illustrates the trains that run from London Kings Cross and Liverpool Street to Ely and Lynn, many of the types and liveries seen, and the extensive infrastructure works that have taken place over the last 30 years.

“I have tried to show in the book things which enthusiasts will already be aware of,” Mr Beckett told the Lynn News.

“It shows the very first electric train and the very last diesel train at the station – I was there. 95% of the photos in the book are mine, but one or two colleagues helped when I hadn’t been able to cover certain things.

“I wanted to mark the anniversary, which of course was over a year ago now, with a book.”

The book is currently available in Kindle, Kobo and iBook formats.

It went to press six months ago – and for self-confessed “railway enthusiast” Mr Beckett, it represents what he hopes is an opportunity for residents to learn more about the line’s history and potentially become more interested in the industry.

“I am pleased to see the Lynn line having a book of its own, and I hope it’s of great interest and enjoyment to many many people – not just railway enthusiasts,” he added.

“I know how much an interest in railways and public transport generally has given me pleasure throughout my life.

“If it helps young people, or people who aren’t so young but are looking for some more colour in life, then that would be fantastic.

“If they go and try the trains out for themselves, if they don’t already, that would be even better for the railway and the area.”

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