Those who love trains, love them a lot and the recent event at the Mid Norfolk Railway attracted some of the most iconic names of the nation’s historic railway recently when the celebration was held at the Spring Diesel Gala. A very intensive schedule ran for the entire weekend for passengers to ride the Mid Norfolk Railway on any one single day from Friday right through to Sunday. This event is held annually and this year a whopping one thousand people rode within the train’s carriages right down the line as it traveled from Wymondham to Dereham and back.
There were even more than that in attendance that did not make the trip on the train over the weekend and instead, they lined the rails along the route cheering and applauding while waiting for the train to pass as they stood at bridges, crossings and at the platforms where the train stopped along the way. The many flashes were like fireworks as the spectators all captured the moment in digital pictures with cameras and with their phones.
Locomotives were brought from other locations to be included in the celebration including the Class 40 and 31 engines. One of the highlights of the event, however, was the very popular Class 50 No. 50007 which was also on hand. This beautiful specimen had recently been repainted into the brilliant BR Blue and the engine was also emblazoned with its original name of “Hercules”.
The commercial manager for the Mid Norfolk Railway, Derek Orr, commented on the event saying that he believed that it was quite successful for the company as well as being an enjoyable occasion for everybody that turned out to celebrate. He says that they were running forty trains over the course of the three day weekend which accounts for a far greater number than what is usually on the tracks at this time of year. He says that normally they would only be running about three trains per day.
Orr says that the additional trains, the management of the volunteers and the entire celebration do require a great deal of man hours and dedication but that all of the organizational details are well worth the effort as it the primary method of raising funds to continue to develop the railway and to enhance its value as an attraction to draw people to the area.
Gala events such as this one are the fundraising focus for the Mid Norfolk Railway and support the future development initiatives which will include building a new maintenance facility that will cost about 90,000 pounds, as well as adding a footbridge that will connect the two main platforms and installing a visitor centre at the Dereham station.
Last year, the progress and improved public status of the line resulted in the award of the Heritage Railway of the Year recognition and a plaque commemorating this prestigious prize will be unveiled later this month at Dereham. On holidays, children get free transport on the train when accompanied by an adult paying regular fare on every day of the week for through spring break except for Mondays and Fridays.