The Mid-Norfolk Railway is owned and operated by the volunteers of the Mid-Norfolk Railway Preservation Trust. From our base in Dereham, Norfolk, we operate Heritage Rail services along the 11 mile line to the market town of Wymondham, just outside Norwich. We are also working to extend services north from Dereham towards North Elmham and County School, with an aim of reaching Fakenham in the future.
Some of our heritage trains offer a drivers-eye view of the line ahead.
In 2012, we won the HRA “Rail Express” Modern Attraction award recognising our Class 47 Golden Jubilee Gala. After a bumper year in 2013, featuring our Big Four Steam Gala and the opening of the line north of Dereham to Hoe, we won the Heritage Railway of the Year Award 2013 at the National Railway Heritage Awards.
The Mid-Norfolk Railway Preservation Trust was set up in 1995 to buy the line from Wymondham to Dereham. Yaxham became the centre of operations, and permission was given to clear the line of undergrowth and to build a platform in order to run trains. The station at Dereham was cleaned up, and open days held. After building a platform at Rash’s Green near Dereham, passenger trains were run between there and Yaxham in 1995. This was a huge success and provided tangible evidence of the Trust’s achievements and its ability to operate the line. After relaying track into Dereham station in early 1997, the first train ran from the station in the summer of that year.
After many years of patient negotiations, and with considerable help from Norfolk County Council, Breckland District Council and South Norfolk District Council, the Wymondham to Dereham section of the line was purchased in April 1998 and became the property of the MNRPT. The line and its connection with the main line at Wymondham were passed for use by freight trains in June 1998, and within a few days a test freight train from Eastleigh worked onto the line – the first train to work into Dereham from the national rail network since closure of the line in 1989.
The rate of progress since then in restoring and upgrading the railway has been very high over the years, and we hope it will continue that way. Current projects are aimed at improving the railway’s infrastructure, including track and signalling. In particular, we are working on building Dereham Shed and commissioning the Dereham Central signal box, and we are busy restoring the line north of Hoe to operational condition. We have restored Dereham Station to its former glory, and installed run-round loops at Dereham and Wymondham. Our most recent success has been the construction of a passing loop and signalling system at Thuxton, and the opening of the line from Dereham to Hoe..