Bridging the Gap – Press Release

Great Central Railway ‘Bridging the Gap’

Bridge Installation

Saturday 2nd Sept 2017

Overnight – From 23.00 hrs – 07.00 hrs

Update: The timings for the first lift are subject to change but currently expected to be around 00:30.

 

Press Release 

It will be a night to remember! The Great Central Railway’s long held ambition to reunite two halves of the line will take a huge step forward with the installation of a key bridge in Loughborough. On the night of Saturday 2nd September, in a moment rail enthusiasts have campaigned decades to see, a 1000 tonne crane will install the new steel bridge deck across two concrete abutments.

The new bridge will one day carry Great Central Railway heritage trains over the tracks of the Midland Main Line below. As one of the most ambitious civil engineering projects undertaken by a heritage railway, ‘Bridging the Gap’ will reinstate approximately 500 metres of missing embankment, track and bridges – all of which were removed after the Great Central Railway was closed as part of a major rationalisation of the railway network by the Government of the day.

When the whole project is complete it will create an eighteen mile heritage railway stretching across the East Midlands which will create jobs and drive regeneration through tourism.

GCR’s CEO, Richard Patching stated ‘This is an exciting night for the Great Central Railway. For over 40 years, our supporters and friends have dreamt of work starting on the reunification of the line.  We hope to continue raising funds to complete the project and finally join the two railways.  We would like to thank our many supporters who have enabled us to get to this stage’.  Phil Stanway, Director of GCRN added’ As this first phase of the reunification project reaches an exciting climax, what was once deemed nothing more than a dream moves one step closer.  The bridge installation is testimony to all who have contributed so far’.

The operation to lower the bridge deck into place will start as soon as possession of the Midland Main Line is granted by Network Rail at approximately 23.00 hrs and work will continue throughout the night to be completed by 07.00 hrs when the trains start operating again on the Midland Mainline.

The project is managed by FJD Construction on behalf of GCR and work has taken place in collaboration with Network Rail who have supported the project and monitored the work to ensure there is no disruption to the main line operation. Contractors MPB have been on site since February 2017 constructing the abutments and preparing the site for this historic event.

Meanwhile Moore Steel of Peterborough have manufactured the bridge deck and will deliver the sections to site shortly before the installation work starts.

The crane arrived on site on 24th August, transported in sections and assembled on site in preparation for the bridge installation.

Rob McIntosh Route Director of Network Rail said ‘We are delighted to be supporting GCR with this exciting and ambitious project which will provide a real boost to tourism for the region.”

At a cost of £2.5m, this element of the ‘Bridging the Gap’ project is the most complex and has taken a number of years to complete, with funding provided through a combination of donations from GCR and GCRN supporters, a £1m grant from the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership and £250,000 worth of shares purchased by Leicestershire County Council. Nick Pulley, Chair of the LLEP said, ‘The LLEP Growth Deal has been extremely successful for the Leicester and Leicestershire area and we are really excited by this unique project which supports the creation of an 18 mile mainline railway from Leicester to Ruddington (Nottingham South).  The GCR project will open up significant commercial and tourism opportunities to increase visitors by 60,000 per year.  In fact, this is the biggest investment in a heritage railway in the UK’.

 


Supporters who are intending to view the installation works should please view our Bridge Installation Safety Notes.


 

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