The Anonymous Widower

Putting Right Norfolk’s £150m Rail Mistake

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Issue 849 Of Rail Magazine.

The article discusses reopening the the former branch line between King’s Lynn station and Hunstanton, which in the author’s view, was a a mistake on British Rail’s part and nothing to do with Beeching.

This video shows the line just before closing.

Note that John Betjeman was the Michael Portillo of his day, but he had a more traditional dress sense and wrote better poetry.

  • It would be a fifteen mile railway to one of the UK’s top-quality coastal resorts.
  • The track-bed is more or less intact, although it is blocked in places.
  • The branch used to have intermediate stations at North Wootton, Wolferton, Dershingham, Snettisham and Heacham.
  • Wolferton station used to serve the Royal residence of Sandringham.
  • A parkway station at Hunstanton is suggested to replace the former Hunstanton station.

These reasons are given for reopening the line.

  • The number of people over sixty in North West Norfolk is a third over the National average.
  • King’s Lynn is the local centre, with a good shopping centre, hospital and rail and bus connections to all over Norfolk and to Cambridge and London.
  • Young people leave the area to get skilled jobs, when they leave school.
  • Day visitors from places like Cambridge would be encouraged to come by train.
  • The roads are overcrowded.

But possibly, the biggest reason could be to create a rail link to the vast silica sand deposits near Dershingham.

  • Rail would be an ideal way to transport the silica sand, as the roads are crowded now!
  • The quarry near Middleton Towers uses trains to Barnsley, Doncaster and Goole.
  • The development would probably mean more local jobs.

It is also stated, that Norfolk County Council are supportive of rail developments.

These are my thoughts on the proposals.

Kings Lynn Station

King’s Lynn has a quirky Grade II Listed station, as I described in King’s Lynn Station.

  • The station has three platforms and plenty of spare capacity
  • The station is within walking distance of the town centre and bus station.
  • It is likely in future that the train service to Ely, ambridge and London will be at least two trains per hour (tph)

The station could certainly handle passenger trains to and from Hunstanton.

The Fen Line

I believe that any serious increase in the number of trains on the Fen Line, will result in the redoubling of the line.

A double-track line Fen Line, coupled with the sorting of Ely North junction, would probably be able to handle up to twelve tph. which would be more than enough to handle extra passenger and freight trains to Hunstanton.

Tracks Between King’s Lynn and Hunstanton

The line would probably be in two parts.

  • King’s Lynn to Dershingham, where passenger and freight services would operate.
  • Dershingham to Hunstanton, where only passenger services would operate.

The line could even be built as a double -track to Dershingham and then single track to Hunstanton.

Electrification would depend on the trains.

Passenger Trains Between King’s Lynn and Hunstanton

Passenger trains could serve the branch in one of two ways.

  • The branch could have a shuttle train, that was timetabled to work well with London trains.
  • London trains could go on to Hunstanton with a reverse at King’s Lynn.

The branch would be about the same length as the Felixstowe Branch Line, which has an hourly shuttle to Ipswich.

This simple service should be possible between King’s Lynn and Hunstanton, working on the principle of ome-train on branch.

But it would probably make it easy to timetable an extended service as well.

As it is proposed that services between King’s Lynn and Kings Cross are going to be doubled in frequency, there are a lot of decisions to take.

What Type Of Trains Would Run Between King’s Lynn and Hunstanton?

Technology is moving on apace and this will drive the choice.

In a few years time, trains could be 125 mph capable on the Kings Cross and King’s Lynn route, as I wrote about in Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route.

The 125 mph would not be needed, but technology like batteries or bi-mode would be available to trundle the train along the route to m Hunstanton.

Independently powered trains, would not require any electrification of the branch, which would reduce the cost of both building and operating the line.

I also think, that we’ll see a high degree of automation to both handle the reverse at king’s Lynn and running along the branch.

Hunstanton Station

The article suggests that Hunstanton station could be a parkway station to the East of the town.

  • The original station site is mainly a car park in the centre of the town.
  • There is space outside the town.

Putting the station to the East would make it easier to extend the railway.

Onward From Hunstanton

On a map in the article, a line to Wells and Fakenham is shown.

Could the author be thinking that the King’s Lynn to Hunstanton line eventually ends up as a coastal railway?

He’s certainly not ruling it out.

  • It could go all the way to Sheringham, where it would link up with the service to Norwich?
  • You can see a lot of the old track-bed on Google Map.

But such a line would restore a rail link between King’s Lynn and Norwich.


Reopening the line between King’s Lynn and Hunstanton, would appear to be not onoy feaiblre, but also something that could be very financially worthwhile.

April 13, 2018 - Posted by | Transport | ,


  1. Interesting.

    Has there been any serious feasibility study done on this including costs?

    Comment by Part Time Spotter | April 13, 2018 | Reply

    • The Rail Magazine article hints at a feasibility study.

      But I think, that, if someone wants that silica sand, that will cut costs significantly.

      Comment by AnonW | April 13, 2018 | Reply

  2. […] via Putting Right Norfolk’s £150m Rail Mistake — The Anonymous Widower […]

    Pingback by The Case For Reinstating Disused Lines? | Part Time Spotter | April 13, 2018 | Reply

  3. Thank you for your coverage of my analysis. Howard Johnston (author)

    Comment by Howard Johnston | April 14, 2018 | Reply

  4. […], accessed on 6th November 2018. This blog quotes the article in Issue No. 849 of Rail Magazine. […]

    Pingback by King’s Lynn Docks Branch – Part 4 ( Miscellaneous) | Roger Farnworth | November 6, 2018 | Reply

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