The heritage Mid-Norfolk Railway has announced that it will reopen on Wednesday 23 June, followed by a Grand Reopening on 26 and 27 June, assuming that the conditions of the government’s Covid-19 roadmap have been met.
The Grand Reopening will feature the debut in passenger service of the refurbished Maroon Mk1 and 2 coaches, hauled by steam locomotive BR Standard Class 4 tank 80078. The weekend will also see the first use of the railway’s former Greater Anglia Mk3 coaches, hauled by the newly refurbished Class 47 number 47596 Aldenburgh Festival, which is now numbered D1933 and has been repainted in BR’s two-tone green livery.
Trains are expected to leave from Dereham and run non-stop to Wymondham Abbey Halt, where passengers can leave the train to observe the engine run around but must then rejoin it for the journey back to Dereham.
Following the reopening, the railway will offer a reduced programme of special events through the remainder of the year. One highlight will be the visit of the world-famous Flying Scotsman from 2-17 October, which will haul passenger trains over three weekends.
However, the first special event for this year will be the return to the railway of the popular 1940s weekend on the 7-8 August. This will be followed over the August Bank Holiday weekend by the return of MNR’s Ales by Rails festival.
The weekend of 25-26 September will see the diesel locos based at the railway out in force, including hauling a special gin-tasting train on the Sunday.
The Mid Norfolk Railway will be hosting the Rail Car Association’s annual meeting on the 23-24 October, and this will be followed by a special Halloween train event running on the 30 October.
The 2021 running season will end with the return of a new and improved Polar Express, on which passengers will travel to the North Pole in style aboard the railway’s Mk3 coaches.
Throughout the year, in addition to the special events, the MNR will be running a regular programme of cream tea trains, the Breckland Fryer fish and chips trains and jazz evenings. The buffet at Dereham station will also open on the first Wednesday of each month for the return of the popular bikers’ evenings.
Full details of all events and ticketing arrangements plus the seasons timetables will appear on the Mid Norfolk Railway website soon.
Charlie Robinson, chairman of the Mid Norfolk Railway Preservation Trust, which owns and operates the railway, said: “Everyone at the railway is looking forward to running our passengers services again.
“It has obviously been a difficult time for everyone, but the railway has survived and we think our varied programme of events will appeal to all and the best way to support the railway is to come along and enjoy a trip through the beautiful Norfolk countryside.
“Donations to support our ongoing development would also be extremely welcome!”