Wherry Lines

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Wherry Lines
Berney Arms railway station 1.jpg
Berney Arms, on the Wherry Lines, is one of the remotest and least-used stations in the country
OwnerNetwork Rail
LocaleEast of England
Great Yarmouth / Lowestoft
TypeHeavy rail
SystemNational Rail
Operator(s)Greater Anglia
Rolling stockClass 755 "FLIRT"
Track lengthNorwich to Great Yarmouth via Acle: 18 miles 29 chains (29.6 km)
Norwich to Great Yarmouth via Reedham: 20 miles 45 chains (33.1 km)
Norwich to Lowestoft: 23 miles 41 chains (37.8 km)
Number of tracks1-2
CharacterRural line
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Operating speed60 miles per hour (97 km/h)
Wherry Lines
River Yare
(original course)
Brundall Gardens
Brundall Junction
Buckenham Red flag waving.svg
Breydon Junction
Great Yarmouth
Berney Arms Red flag waving.svg
Reedham Junction
Haddiscoe Junction
Yarmouth–Beccles line
Oulton Broad North

The Wherry Lines are railway branch lines in the East of England, linking Norwich to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. There are 14 stations including the three termini. They form part of Network Rail Strategic Route 7, SRS 07.11 and are classified as a rural line.[1]

The lines pass through the Broads of Norfolk and Suffolk. The name is taken from the Norfolk wherries, which played an important role in the transport of goods and people around the Broads before road and rail transport became widespread.

Passenger services on the Wherry Lines are currently operated by Abellio Greater Anglia.


The route was opened from Norwich to Great Yarmouth by the Norwich and Yarmouth Railway in 1844, running via Reedham. The line from Reedham to Lowestoft was added in 1847 by Samuel Morton Peto as part of the Norfolk Railway.[citation needed] Finally, the northern route from Norwich to Great Yarmouth via Acle was added in 1883 by the Great Eastern Railway, opening from Breydon Junction to Acle on 12 March, and through to Brundall on 1 June.[2]

Community rail[edit]

In 2007 the services operating on the line were designated as community rail services as part of the Community Rail Development Strategy aiming to increase patronage and income, improve cost control and develop a greater sense of community involvement.[3][4]


Wherry Lines.svg

The line from Norwich to Lowestoft is double-track throughout, but the two Great Yarmouth branches that diverge from Brundall via Acle and from Reedham via Berney Arms are single-track, although the branch via Acle was formerly double-track throughout.

The Wherry Lines are not electrified, hence services are formed by Bi-mode multiple units. The route has a loading gauge of W8, except between Lowestoft and Oulton Broad North where it is W6, and a maximum line speed of 60 miles per hour (97 km/h).

Of the 14 stations, two are request stops. These are Berney Arms, which typically sees four trains call per day (eight on Sundays), and Buckenham, which has no weekday service but sees three trains call on Saturdays and six trains each Sunday. At most of the stations on the Wherry Lines, service frequencies are increased during the summer months.

The signalling system was modernised in 2018-19. The line between Reedham and Great Yarmouth was closed from 20 October 2018 when it opened again in April 2019. Network Rail a bus replacement service was available during the works[5] In January 2019, it was reported that the project was overrunning and that the line between Reedham and Great Yarmouth would not reopen in April 2019 as scheduled. No firm date was initially given as to when the line would reopen.[6] The Great Yarmouth-Reedham line reopened on 24 February 2020.[7]

Rolling stock[edit]

Passenger services are operated by Abellio Greater Anglia, typically using Class 755 trains. In 2015 the train operator introduced DRS Class 37 locomotive-hauled services due to a shortage of rolling stock as the route is not electrified. These ceased following the introduction of the 755s in 2019.

On Mondays to Saturdays, one service in each direction between Norwich and Lowestoft is served by East Midlands Railway Class 158 Express Sprinter units, operated by Greater Anglia. The service runs in the early morning on both journeys.[8]

Nearly all services on the line run to and from Norwich. Some summer Saturday services were extended to and from London Liverpool Street via Norwich which ran to and from Great Yarmouth. These services were formed of British Rail Class 90 electric locomotives with Mark 3 Coaching Stock, which were hauled from Norwich by a British Rail Class 47 diesel locomotive. The services have now ceased favouring connections with existing local services, due to the complexity of the coupling and uncoupling and other issues which led to poor reliability of the mainline operation.


  1. ^ "Route 7 – Great Eastern" (PDF). Network Rail. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  2. ^ Railway Centenary. Locomotive, Railway Carriage and Wagon Review. 1925. p. 17.
  3. ^ "Community rail – new life for local lines". Department for Transport.
  4. ^ "Community Rail Development Strategy". Department for Transport.
  5. ^ Matchett, Conot (4 September 2018). "No trains between Great Yarmouth and Reedham for six months as part of £68m upgrade". Eastern Daily Press. Archant Media Ltd. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  6. ^ "Norfolk rail line to remain closed as £68m upgrade project overruns". BBC News Online. 11 January 2019. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  7. ^ "Trains temporarily suspended from station - hours after line reopens following 18 month closure". Eastern Daily Press. Archant. Retrieved 24 February 2020.
  8. ^ "Frequently Requested Diagrams Thread".

External links[edit]