Click here for latest information on the crossing.
The North Norfolk Railway is set to become reconnected to the national rail network for the first time in over 40 years.
Although the fund has reached its target it will remain open for a further short period in order to cover the inevitable extra costs which tend to arise with projects of this nature. Any surplus will be placed in the existing fund towards the erection of a canopy on Platform 2 at Sheringham to replicate the original look of the station. Of course, many of the contributions towards the crossing have been committed as staged payments, such as standing orders etc. so although the 'target' has been met this does not mean that the 'cash is in the bank'.
Steven Ashling, the Project Director, commented:
"I, along with the remainder of the NNR Board, would like to thank everyone who has so generously contributed to this vital project. It is encouraging that, even in these straitened times, so many people have given money to enable this project to go-ahead. I would again thank everyone who donated and hope that you will be able to join us im March to see the 'new' crossing."
The plan is to install an occasional use level crossing at Sheringham. Rails will be laid across the road connecting our station to Network Rail's halt, the end point of the Bittern Line.
Whilst National Express mainline services will continue to use the small halt on the east side of Station Road, the physical link between the railways will allow charter trains and visiting locomotives to reach the NNR via the national rail network.
Work started on 9th January to slew the NNR headshunt into line. The main weekend will be 20/21 February when the NNR and Network Rail infrastructures will be connected. The first train is due to run on 11th March 2010, The Broadsman, from Liverpool Street to Holt hauled by 'Oliver Cromwell'. This is operated by Railway Touring Company.
Planning permission has already been obtained and all of the parties involved have reached an agreement. Now all that remains is to raise the remaining funds. Work is due to take place during the winter of 2009/2010, providing sufficient funds can be raised beforehand.
Click on one of the links below or scroll down this page to read more about this exciting project.
The railway always crossed Station Road from when it was built. Sheringham East signalbox was built adjacent to the road to control the east end of the station, including the level crossing gates.
From 1st January 1967 all train services from Norwich to Sheringham terminated at a newly built halt on the Cromer side of Station Road. Although the rails still linked the two stations and the level crossing gates and signalbox remained, to all intents and purposes the NNR was isolated from the national railway system.
The crossing was used for two special trains over the following years, for the delivery of rolling stock to the NNR. The B12 and J15 locomotives, as well as the Diesel Railbuses, Quad-Art set and several other carriages and wagons were all delivered by rail before the crossing was finally lifted in the early 1970s.
Some years later one final rail movement was made across the road. In order to allow the delivery of several new acquisitions to Sheringham, a temporary section of track was laid across Station Road over one weekend. Volunteers worked around the clock to relay the line, move the newly arrived Pullman cars and suburban carriages onto our side of the road and then lift the track and replace the buffer stops once again.
A book outlining the history of Sheringham’s level crossing is available form our online shop here with all proceeds going to the crossing fund.
It is our intention to install an occasional use level crossing between the two stations at Sheringham. Both stations would be retained and would continue to operate entirely independently, as they do now.
There would be a physical rail connection across the road linking the two lines. This would take the form of a "tramway" where the rails are embedded in the road. Car parking spaces would be retained at the Network Rail station but would be closed off the night before any rail movements. Gates would be installed at the boundaries of both railways which could be opened when required. The road would be fenced off and stop signs would be erected whenever a train crossed, with trains stopping before the crossing and then proceeding at walking pace.
Ottendorf Green would be slightly restyled to move any obstructions such as benches to the other side of the green, away from the rails. The green would remain open on days when there are no rail movements across it and would be partially fenced off when movements are required. A waiting shelter and a few other items on the Network Rail side of the road would also be repositioned clear of the rails. The buffer stops at both sides of the road would be replaced by lockable wheel stops.
Some concern has been expressed that the crossing will spoil Ottendorf Green. This would not be the case as similar tramways in other parts of the world have adapted short railway lines to provide very pleasing appearances. Apart from the actual rails there is very little to show a railway line is there. The term tramway is simply a legal term describing a railway without fencing.
Mainline registered visiting locomotives could in future arrive and depart from the railway via rail rather than by road. There will also be exciting opportunities to run charter trains from London and other places to Sheringham or even through to Holt, via Norwich. These could potentially bring large numbers of people to the area out of season to enjoy the delights of Sheringham, which many local businesses are looking forward to.
Our recent Steam Gala has shown what an effect the railway can have to the local economy. Guest houses were full and many shops, restaurants and pubs in Sheringham reported a huge rise in takings, despite the event being held out of season. Bringing charter trains into Sheringham means this could potentially happen several times during each low season.
It was October 2007 and Network Rail was having its annual Retirement & Long Service Day at North Norfolk Railway. Taking advantage of having senior Network Rail managers in Sheringham, the NNR asked if it could be permitted to string a temporary track across the road and run a train over as a bit of a stunt! Network Rail replied, "why not build a crossing?" The door was open, it was now or never!
Meetings were held between the NNR and Network Rail, County Highways and HM Railway Inspectorate. All said it could be done. The latter added a caution in that unless the road traffic can be managed better a full crossing would not be possible. However, an 'Occasional use - tramway style' crossing would be permitted. The rest of 2008 was spent getting the necessary permissions and design work approved. In May we held a Public Meeting and found that the town of Sheringham were happy to accept our proposals. The only condition was that we allow provision for the Christmas tree on the green as the current position would be in the four foot. This we would be happy to do. By December 2008 we were ready to go.
Surveys identified that most services would not be affected by our works but there is a telecoms chamber and electric power cables to relocate. The former would cost £400,000 and would therefore kill the project dead. Fortunately, BT agreed to allow the NNR to strengthen it in position. EDF on the other hand were not so flexible and require £25,000 to move their cables.
Then comes the fundraising! We always knew that there was massive support for this project but when it comes to money that is another thing. At the time of writing, March 2009, this is proving to be a little slow and difficult at the present time. The NNR have and are continuing to speak with economic regeneration bodies to obtain financial support. We are in no doubt that this project will benefit the town enormously by bringing in charter trains with a couple of hundred people on. By targeting these at the shoulders of the summer peak it can have the effect of lengthening the season. The 2009 50th anniversary gala in February demonstrated that a big event could fill the guesthouses, pubs and restaurants for miles around. In addition we are launching a fund raising campaign, inviting people to sponsor part of the crossing. This approach has been successful on other projects in the past, one can just hope that this will not be the exception. Asking for money in the current economic climate is understandably not easy. However, we have massive support from all stakeholders, the Councils and the public alike so we know that if it can be funded, it will be.
Norfolk County Council have already kindly pledged £25,000 towards the project, providing we can raise the remaining amount and North Norfolk District Council have pledged £5,000.
Sheringham Crossing is now a matter of when rather than if!
Worked started on a snowy Saturday 8th January on the NNR headshunt to slew into line.
Although we have now reached our initial target for the crossing a financial buffer would be helpful to cater for the inevitable additional costs which arise from this type of project. Any surplus that may accrue will be put towards the existing fund for the erection of the canopy on Platform 2 at Sheringham in the original M&GN style using some scroll work which we have carefully stored. This is planned to be erected during 2010 assuming sufficient funding can be raised.
This, as well as restoring Sheringham to nearer its original design, will also serve a useful purpose in protecting passengers from the weather when Platform 2 is being used.
If you wish to make a donation, become a Friend or sponsor one of the items above you can download this form and send it to:
Level Crossing Appeal Sheringham Station Sheringham Norfolk NR26 8RA
Alternatively cheques can be made payable to "North Norfolk Railway PLC" and posted to the same address.
Together we are making history - thank you for your support.
Latest pictures from site: February 11th
Latest pictures from site: February 27th/28th
Lunchtime on Sunday 7 March saw the first locomotive to cross the new level crossing. It was a test run using a DRS Class 37 which, whilst on NNR territory, did a trip to Holt and back. The official opening of the crossing takes place on Thursday 11th when a steam railtour headed by 70013 Oliver Cromwell arrives, but there will be limited facilities for the general public – click here for full details.