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Berney Arms, on the Wherry Lines, is one of the remotest and least-used stations in the country
|Locale||East of England|
Great Yarmouth / Lowestoft
|Rolling stock||Class 37|
Class 153 "Super Sprinter"
Class 156 "Super Sprinter"
Class 158 "Express Sprinter"
Class 170 "Turbostar"
|Track length||Norwich 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 tracks||1-2|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Operating speed||60 miles per hour (97 km/h)|
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.
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. 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.
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.
The Wherry Lines are not electrified, hence services are formed by diesel 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: 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 is due to be modernised in 2018-19. The line between Reedham and Great Yarmouth will be closed from 20 October 2018 until April 2019. Network Rail have stated that a bus replacement service will operate. 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 given as to when the line would reopen.
Passenger services are operated by Abellio Greater Anglia, typically using Class 153 "Super Sprinter", Class 156 "Super Sprinter" or Class 170 "Turbostar" diesel 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.
On Mondays to Saturdays, one service in each direction between Norwich and Lowestoft is served by East Midlands Trains Class 158 Express Sprinter units, operated by Greater Anglia. The service runs in the early morning on both journeys.
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.