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Second loco boost for rail line

PUBLISHED: 09:29 09 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:34 03 July 2010

A second purpose-built locomotive is set to steam along one of North Norfolk's most famed scenic railways after the project pulled in a £38,300 grant.

The Wells and Walsingham Light Railway, thought to be the longest 10.

A second purpose-built locomotive is set to steam along one of North Norfolk's most famed scenic railways after the project pulled in a £38,300 grant.

The Wells and Walsingham Light Railway, thought to be the longest 10.25in narrow-gauge steam railway in the world, opened in 1982 and is run using the specially-built Garratt locomotive, Norfolk Hero.

But even though 18,000 customers enjoyed the four-mile journey this summer, many were turned away because the engine could only pull a limited number of carriages.

The new locomotive will increase capacity and reduce breakdown delays after the scheme became the first to benefit from a Norfolk Coast and Broads Rural Development Programme (RDP) grant.

It is hoped the completed project will also encourage more tourism-related spending in the area.

Owner and creator of the railway, 87-year-old retired naval officer Lt Cdr Roy Francis, said: “With this funding, we can run two steam locomotives, increasing our capacity to accommodate coach parties, and generate enough work and income to afford an apprentice engineer.”

The boiler will be built by a specialist engineer in Yaxham, near Dereham, with other parts constructed in London.

Project manager Richard Mountstephen said he hoped the completed engine, which will cost £80,000 in total, could be ready to roll by next summer.

He said a second engine at the front would mean extra carriages could be pulled, taking capacity from 80 to 110 people. He added: “It also allows us to offer a reliable service.

“Occasionally things go bang and you have to take things apart and repair them. Even a simple thing could lose us a day's running.”

The Norfolk Coast and Broads area, combined with RDP groups in the Waveney Valley and Brecks, has secured £10m from the Rural Development Programme for England - funded by the government and the EU. RDP facilitator Carol Allen said:“It's been a real pleasure for me to support the Wells and Walsingham Light Railway.”

To apply for a share of the funding visit www.ruralhub.info/lag or call 01603 748844.

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