Bittern Line Community Rail Partnership celebrates 21st anniversary
An organisation which helps promote one of Norfolk’s rural railway lines is celebrating its 21st anniversary.
This year, the Bittern Line Community Rail Partnership (CRP) celebrates 21 years of supporting the railway which runs from Norwich via the Broads National Park to Cromer and Sheringham on the North Norfolk coast.
Over the last 21 years, the CRP has played an invaluable role in supporting and developing projects to promote the line, building community links, improving station facilities and working with the train operator on projects to enhance train services – such as more frequent late evening and Sunday services.
As a result, passenger journeys on the line have more than tripled since 1997 from around 200,000 journeys a year to more than 680,000 journeys a year.
To celebrate the milestone, key figures from Greater Anglia and the community rail partnership will gathered at Norwich station to cut a celebration cake and over the coming weeks volunteers from the partnership will distribute Bittern Line souvenirs to passengers.
The CRP and the Bittern line are also featured on the Bittern and Wherry hare at the station, as part of this year’s GoGoHares charity art trail.
Jonathan Denby, Greater Anglia’s Head of Corporate Affairs, said: “The Bittern Line CRP has been a great success, working closely with successive train operators to help promote and develop the Norwich to Sheringham line.
“Its proactive support has strengthened local links and has helped to significantly increase passenger journeys on the line over the last two decades.
“The line has gone from strength to strength and we are always working to improve the experience for our customers. We are currently installing ticket machines at most stations on the line and, from the middle of next year we will start to replace our entire fleet of trains with brand new ones which will all be at least 3 carriages long - compared to the 2 carriage, and sometimes single carriage, trains which operate most of today’s services. They will also have air conditioning, Wifi and plug sockets.”
Martin Halliday, Interim Development Officer at Community Rail Norfolk, said: “We would like to thank everyone who has worked together to make the line a success, including the dedicated station adopters who keep the stations looking bright and welcoming.
“This Autumn, the CRP will be installing new tourist and visitor information display boards at stations along the line, complementing the work of the many volunteer station adopters who keep the stations tidy and tend to an array of planting schemes and flowers.
The line is busy throughout the year as it serves various communities along its 30-mile route, including the popular Broads destinations of Salhouse and Wroxham and the market town of North Walsham. This year already looks to be a bumper year for the Bittern Line with thousands of people heading to the coast and the popular resorts of Cromer and Sheringham.
The line also makes a significant year-round contribution to tourism, with easy connections from stations to the North Norfolk Heritage Railway at Sheringham and the narrow-gauge Bure Valley Railway at Hoveton & Wroxham. It also supports events along the line, and recently added extra capacity for the hugely popular Worstead Festival.
Greater Anglia, which is the major funder of the CRP, has recently increased its financial support, as part of its new franchise, whilst the CRP also benefits from support from local authorities including Norfolk County Council, Broadland District Council and North Norfolk District Council.