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Major plans to create new railway station between south of King’s Lynn and West Winch

Talks are under way about the creation of a new railway station as part of wider plans for a huge upgrade of the county’s train network.

The reconstruction of a station south of Lynn, which closed to passengers in 1959, is a centrepiece of a new strategy unveiled by the Eastern Powerhouse (EP) at a conference in Cambridge this week.

The organisation, made up of MPs, councillors and business leaders, hopes the scheme – which it says will generate significant economic growth in the region – can be funded by Whitehall reallocating cash previously earmarked for the failed northern leg of the HS2 railway line.

Cllr Terry Parish. Picture: West Norfolk Council
Cllr Terry Parish. Picture: West Norfolk Council

The new station is the most eye-catching element of broader plans to improve the railway network to boost the region’s economy.

The group also wants to upgrade several other stations and develop them into so-called ‘business hubs’. It has been consulting with Norfolk councils to identify possible locations for the sites, which could become localised centres of industry.

The station would be located on the Lynn to London line, and would be built on land to the south of the A47 between South Lynn and West Winch.

It would provide regular services to Cambridge as well as the capital and the EP believe it could benefit Norfolk by strengthening links to Cambridge – less than an hour from Lynn by train – which is expected to undergo massive economic growth in the coming years.

James Palmer, director of the group, said: “We have been working with Network Rail following talks with the Secretary of State for Transport to look at ways of improving the railway network in the East and find potential new projects to the region.

“We have since been having discussions with West Norfolk Council about the potential for a second railway station for King’s Lynn.

“It follows us putting a call-out to local councils to identify potential locations of railway stations in need of investment, which we have gained several responses to.

“Improvement of railway stations is an example of our ambition to improve the transport network and are looking for stations lacking in trade and in need of regeneration.

“Creating a business hub within the locality is something we are exploring.”

The West Winch area is to experience a huge amount of growth in the next few years, with more than 4,000 homes due to be built, accompanied by new health, education and community facilities.

West Norfolk Council says its aim is to integrate a large number of new homes and associated facilities with the existing village community, creating a range of major improvements to bring economic benefits to the district and “maximise its extensive potential”.

Creating new transport links is an important part of the project and a new access road, linking the A47 with the A149, is already progressing.

Mr Palmer added: “Eastern Powerhouse can only open doors. We will work with councils and support their discussions with central government to find ways to encourage growth.”

Terry Parish, the former leader of the Independent coalition-led West Norfolk Council, says there is strong support for the idea.

“A new railway station in West Winch would be ideal given the 4,000 homes intended to be built there,” he said.

“Officers are moving forward with discussions with Eastern Powerhouse. There is a lot of interest among councillors and officers for such a station.”

Implications for hospital rebuild:

Cllr Parish added that if the idea gets more traction, it would give more weight to calls for the rebuild of the crumbling Queen Elizabeth Hospital – currently planned for its current site north of the town – to be reconsidered for the West Winch/Hardwick area.

“The important thing is that we get a new hospital. But a greenfield site with room to expand and include relevant business opportunities, with a rail link, would be ideal,” he added.

It is not the first time establishing a railway station south of Lynn has been raised.

In 2022, borough councillor Anthony Bubb raised the idea as way of easing the strain on the region’s roads after the new housing is built.

South Lynn’s last station:

The area to the south of Lynn last had a station which opened in 1886 on land which is now just to the south of the Saddlebow roundabout.

It was on the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway, the east-west line which connected Norfolk with towns and cities in the Midlands.

South Lynn was also connected via a busy junction to the line which ran south from town.

It was closed to passengers in 1959 but continued as a coal depot until 1966.

Some features of the line and station area can still be found in the area.

The proposed new station would be to the east of the original station, to sit on the main Lynn line.

The area is currently farmland, with much of it due to be developed in the coming years.

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