James is backing the campaign to reopen the King's Lynn - Hunstanton line. A new rail link would benefit commuters and tourists and provide significant economic, social, and environmental benefits.
James is supporting a bid to the Department for Transport (DfT) to re-open the railway line between King's Lynn and Hunstanton. He is working with the King’s Lynn Hunstanton Railway Campaign, Norfolk County Council, and Councillor Andrew Jamieson. This marks the first stage of potentially re-opening the line in response to the government's 'Restoring your Railway' fund. A revised proposal was submitted in March 2021 following feedback from the DfT - If the bid is successful, the DfT will fund 75% of costs up to £50,000 to help fund transport and economic studies and create a business case.
A new rail link would improve connectivity, boost investor confidence as well as increase business and employment opportunities . It could help encourage young people to stay in the area rather than move away for work by providing a fast, reliable transport link between North West Norfolk and Cambridge, which continues to sustain one of the strongest and most successful economies in Europe.
King’s Lynn and the towns that would be served by the new railway are centres where key services such as education, employment, retail and leisure are focussed. A new rail route would open up connectivity to these services and boost local communities. Further development of the benefits of the railway forms part of the feasibility work proposed, including the potential to re-open a railhead to King’s Lynn docks.
A new rail route potentially offers an alternative to car-based traffic and reducing congestion on the A149 corridor. There is also the potential for reduced carbon emissions and better air quality in King’s Lynn and more widely.
The proposal draws on an initial feasibility study championed by Councillor Jamieson on behalf of Norfolk County Council. This considered four options in high-level terms within this study including the former route from King’s Lynn to Hunstanton as previously operated until 1969, a review of the former rail route variant option proposed by KLHRC and two potential new options.
In November 2020, the Rail Minister wrote to James and said that the proposal has potential and may be suitable for Ideas Funding in principle. The assessment noted that there was good alignment with local and national policies including the Towns Deal, good understanding of proposed route and connected communities, links to opportunities for jobs, tourism, decongestion and emissions benefits.
However, while it judged the proposal identified several socio-economic benefits, the Department for Transport has said it needs further evidence to support the case including on the economic benefits, consideration of level crossing requirements, and coastal flood risk. James worked with Norfolk County Council, KLHRC, and others to respond to this feedback and submit a new bid.
Read more about the King's Lynn Hunstanton Railway Campaign here.