The Mid-Norfolk Railway (MNR) is a 14-mile preserved standard gauge heritage railway, one of the longest in Great Britain. Regular steam and diesel services run 11 1⁄2 miles through the centre of Norfolk between the market towns of Wymondham and Dereham via Yaxham, Thuxton and Kimberley Park, and occasional sightseer services continue north of Dereham to the limit of the operational line at Hoe, where there is no station. The Wymondham to Wells branch was opened in stages between 15 February 1847 and 1857, after Parliamentary consent was given in 1845. The entire line became part of the Great Eastern Railway in 1862. The Wymondham to Dereham section received double track in 1882, while the line north of there remained single track. Along with the rest of the Great Eastern Railway, the branch became part of the Southern Area of the London and North Eastern Railway when the various British railway companies were grouped into four large companies in 1923. The line was heavily used during World War I and World War II, with extra Air Ministry sidings provided at Dereham in 1943. In the early days of the war, Dereham was used as a reception centre for the construction materials used to build the local airfields.
The nationalisation of the "Big Four" railway companies placed the line as part of the Eastern Region of British Railways on 1 January 1948. The branch line between County School and Wroxham closed to passengers on 15 September 1952, with the section between Foulsham and Reepham closing to goods as well. A stub of the western section, between County School and Foulsham remained open for goods until 31 October 1964, being busiest in the sugar beet season. The passenger service between Dereham and Wells ended on 5 October 1964. Dereham became an intermediate station for Norwich to King's Lynn services. In June 1965, the Wymondham to Dereham section was reduced to single track with a passing loop at Hardingham. The passenger service from King's Lynn ended on 9 September 1968, with the Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway Society operating the 'East Anglian Branch Line Farewell' DMU special on the final Saturday. The withdrawal of the remaining passenger services, between Wymondham and Dereham, followed in October 1969.
The 11 1⁄2 miles (18.5 km) section of line between Dereham and Wymondham is in regular use, with a further 2 1⁄2 miles to Hoe passed for operation, but only used for periodic charter and works trains. The company also owns the next 3.5 miles of disused trackbed from Hoe to County School station near North Elmham, although a section of about one mile lacks track between North Elmham and County School. This makes the Mid-Norfolk Railway one of the longest standard-gauge heritage railways in the United Kingdom. Beyond the railway's holding, the trackbed is mostly intact from County School to Fakenham, and is reserved by the council for railway use. The MNR and other groups plan to restore the line to this third market town. The MNR's preserved stations include Yaxham, which retains its original signal box and shelters. Trains hauled by both steam and diesel locomotives run on most weekends from the end of February to December, and on Wednesdays and Thursdays in summer. There are also special events throughout the year. Wymondham Abbey is a beautiful 11th century abbey, now the parish church. Well worth a visit.
Click here for the timetable of steam trains (especially the Cream Tea Service). Visit the Museum Room on Dereham Station and learn something of the local railway history. See a selection of railway items, look at the information boards and booklets, and, if you wish, talk with the steward who will be on duty. Additional items can be seen nearby in the station café seating area. The Museum Room is open most days that MNR trains are running. A ramp can be placed in the doorway to allow access to wheelchairs. Dereham and Wymondham Abbey Stations are Wheelchair accessible and a large Wheelchair friendly toilet is provided at Dereham station. The Station buffet, shop and museum are all accessible in a wheelchair. The smaller stations, Kimberley Park, Thuxton and Yaxham, have narrow platforms and a small gated entrance. Smaller Wheelchairs should be able to access the platforms ok, but larger wheelchairs and/or mobility scooters would struggle. All of the trains carry wheelchair ramps to enable passengers to board or alight at any of the stations. Please be aware none of the trains have Wheelchair accessible toilets. All of the Heritage Railcar trains can accommodate Wheelchairs on the services. On the Diesel Hauled services, the Blue/Grey Intercity train has a dedicated wheelchair space provided in the Buffet Car. They welcome Guide Dogs free of charge on all the services (other dogs are £1.00). Hearing loops are installed at the Dereham Station.
Location : Dereham Station, Station Road, Dereham, Norfolk NR19 1DF
Transport: Wymondham (National Rail). Bus Routes : Dereham is served from Norwich, Great Yarmouth, Fakenham, Kings Lynn, Wisbech & Peterborough by First and Konnect Bus as well as National Express coaches.
Opening Times : See Timetable
Tickets Standard: Adults £14.00; Concessions £11.00; Children £3.00
Tickets Off Peak: Adults £10.00; Concessions £9.00; Children £2.00
Tickets First Class: Adults £25.00; Children £15.00
Tel: 01362 851723