Project information

Mid Norfolk Railway Community Service

The existing community owned railway from the large town of Dereham to Wymondham could, with the Network Rail line that it joins, offer a valuable and environmentally sound transport service into Norwich. We wish to study its potential and find the most economical methods of upgrading it suitably.

1 year

Charity information: The Melton Constable Trust

The Melton Constable Trust logo
  • Need


    This charity run railway is already 11 miles long and is gradually extending northwards towards Fakenham. It operates a limited internal, mostly heritage, service Dereham - Wymondham. For it to be used for a viable service Dereham - Norwich its traffic potential has to be studied further and it needs to be upgraded technically for higher speed, operation of level crossings etc. Finding the most economical way of doing this will provide a national test case for other independent railways.


    It will commission a professional traffic and revenue study and, crucially, employ a small team of very experienced (possibly recently retired) railway personnel to assist us in devising the most cost-effective way of upgrading the line to the satisfaction of the Office of the Rail Regulator. This will seek to demonstrate how an independent railway can achieve more realistic costs than under Network Rail. It will provide the blueprint and case for the technical work to follow.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To establish and demonstrate the case for an environmentally friendly, car-free rail service.


    » Commission a professional study of the traffic and revenue potential of a Dereham - Norwich service adding detail to previous favourable studies.

    What success will look like

    Success will be...Well researched data, using government accepted modelling methods, fully illustrating the potential of the line, available to authorities and funders.

    Aim 2

    Find the most cost-effective way of upgrading the line for the service. To show how it can be done.


    » Employ very experienced railway personnel to work with our volunteers on the engineering and regulatory issues and produce an affordable scheme.

    What success will look like

    Success will be...Fresh thinking to produce an engineering scheme, using paid and volunteer labour, which finds lower cost solutions acceptable to regulators and funders.

    Aim 3

    To use this railway as a test case of national value.


    » By showing how this line can be integrated into a public transport service well below Network Rail costs, as an exemplar for other independent lines.

    What success will look like

    Success will be...The production of a published scheme, accepted by the regulators, which makes the case for the affordable development of independent railways for transport.

  • Impact


    The steady upgrading of the line in accordance with the agreed cost-effective scheme. The creation of an experimental Dereham - Norwich service, subsequently made permanent. Similar projects developed on other independent lines with comparable potential, using the work that has been done on this project as an exemplar.


    That the traffic and revenue study will not show enough potential. - Dealt with by the favourable indications of previous, more general, studies of the full orbital route and major expansion in Dereham.

    That the upgrading scheme will not find adequate lower cost solutions. - Dealt with by the Mid Norfolk and North Norfolk Railways' experience of earlier rebuilding of their lines from dereliction and official findings that Network Rail's costs are some 40% above other European railways.


    Progress reports. Copies of the traffic and revenue study and the upgrading scheme will be provided. Donors will be welcome to see the railway.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £53,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £18,000 Traffic and revenue study Professional study and modelling of the potential available from the area for the rail service
      £35,000 Upgrading scheme 3 skilled people to deal with engineering and regulatory issues
  • Background


    Dereham - Wymondham - Norwich in Norfolk. Dereham lost its railway passenger service in 1960s. It has since expanded substantially and is one of Norfolks biggest centres. The railway was purchased, with local government support, by the present charity in 1990s and has been brought back from dereliction to provide its present limited service, which includes some freight. It is a community railway in the fullest sense, being owned by local people who have joined and supported the charity.


    The whole local population, including all of those from the Dereham area who need to work or shop in Norwich, the county's main centre. Tourists for whom the railway will add substantially to car free travel options in Norfolk. The local economy. Other populations, in other parts of the country, where independent railways could be making a similar contribution. Everyone concerned with the environmental impact of road congestion into Norwich and with road pollution.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    The trustees of the Melton Constable Trust were founders of the other Norfolk independent railway, the North Norfolk Railway, and have long experience in this field. They have carried out substantial work on the wider Norfolk Orbital Railway proposal, of which the Mid Norfolk Railway is part. The Trust has an agreement with the Mid Norfolk Railway to work in partnership on this project.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Trevor Bailey, Trustee, Melton Constable Trust

    40 years experience of rural economic and community work. Some 30 years experience of running and funding charities. Will co-ordinate the project.

    John Hull, MNR Partner

    Vice-Chairman of the Mid Norfolk Railway Trust. Our main liaison with Mid Norfolk Railway personnel. He will organise the MNR part of the team.

    Derek Haynes, Financial Manager

    Derek has substantial financial experience and currently works in a senior role with KPMG. He will oversee the project's finances.

    David Rees, Trustee, The Melton Constable Trust

    The main founder of the North Norfolk Railway and the independent railway movement in East Anglia. Will disseminate information to others.