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The Mid-Norfolk Railway is great - but it can do more

Jamie Collingwood Published: 01 September 2023

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Jamie Collingwood holding a bus

As the magazine’s regular readers will know, the Mid-Norfolk Railway is a heritage line operating from Wymondham Abbey station to Dereham. It is certainly a valued asset in the community, and particularly attractive to the rail enthusiasts among us. But could it be doing better?

Under usual circumstances, a ticket can be bought from the ticket offices at Wymondham Abbey station or Dereham station with the offer of either a return (costing £12) or a day rover ticket (£15-£17, depending on timetable for the day). Trains are only running from Dereham-Thuxton at present. The tickets are a little pricey, however they become better value if you take children as adults can take two children free.

At Dereham, there is both a tearoom and museum which aren’t easy to find when exactly they are open as both state they are open ‘most days trains are running’ and neither provide any specific hours. These could be marketed better on their website and also in Wymondham town centre, however are a great incentive to get people on the MNR and to visit Dereham.

A great way to get regular users onto the railway could be through a season ticket or annual pass that could pay off after two or three trips, and would ensure people would come back each year. It would also give them the opportunity to regularly visit the Dereham station tea room.

Dining trains are trains accompanied by catering, currently in the form of a fish and chips train (‘Breckland Fryer’) or afternoon tea. These experiences provide extra interest alongside a regular journey and although are on the pricey side, do tend to sell out. The Mid-Norfolk Railway should consider running these experiences more frequently as currently there is only one event per 2-3 weeks. This takes away potential demand there could be for, say, a Breckland Fryer each Friday.

The focus on attracting as many passengers as possible as well as providing catering on trains should be the MNR’s primary one as this would assist stabilised finances and reduce the reliance on fundraisers in order to keep the railway operational.

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