Hunstanton rail campaigners welcome county study plan, but warn action needed soon on 'connection crisis'
Campaigners lobbying for the restoration of a rail link between Lynn and Hunstanton have welcomed the prospect of a new county council study of the idea.
Officials at County Hall are set to commission a study looking at the potential viability of re-opening the line, 50 years after it closed.
Howard Johnston, an advisor to the campaign to restore the line, said the study represented a “giant leap forward.”
But he also warned that officials need to move quickly in order to solve an impending transport crisis for the borough.
He said: “King’s Lynn, Hunstanton and the communities on this side of the Wash face serious difficulties if connectivity is not improved over the next decade.”
A report to the authority’s infrastructure and development select committee, which met at County Hall in Norwich on Wednesday, said the county council’s current policy was that it was “not seen as feasible to consider reopening due to, amongst other things, the cost of reinstating the line, that it is compromised by development, and an unproven business case.”
It added: “As the county council has not undertaken detailed technical work on the issue, Select Committee is asked to note that officers commissioning high level technical work to assess current evidence on the likely merits of a business case for reopening.
“Until this technical work is undertaken it would be premature to agree to a policy for reopening the railway.”
Concerns have also been expressed about the potential cost of any restoration project and the route a new line might take, given that parts of the original route have been built on in the intervening decades.
But supporters argue it would have a vital role to play both in improving links between West Norfolk and Cambridge and easing well-known traffic problems around Lynn.
The campaign says that around 5,000 people have already signed its petition calling for the line to be reinstated.
Mr Johnston argued that discussing how much of the original route of the old line, which shut in May 1969, would be used again was “a distraction at this early stage”, while the cost of construction was “relatively low” if spread over a long period, potentially as much as 50 years.