Main Line Xtra

60136 ‘Tornado’ weekend on the Great Central Railway Nottingham

The GCR Nottingham had a spectacular weekend on 10-11 February when it hosted A1 Steam Locomotive Trust 60136 ‘Tornado’ after the loco’s winter overhaul at Locomotive Maintenance Services in Loughborough, before returning to the main line.

Phil Stanway, Company Secretary of the GCRN agreed the deal to run the loco, which hauled 8 trains over the weekend, using 4 HST trailer cars from the 125 Group and a Mark 2 coach, tailed by 47828. 1200 people rode the trains, a great success for the GCRN.

The Friends of the Great Central Main Line were invited to support the event. Rather than organising a platform stand on a wintry weekend, we fielded a team, led by Bill Higson, to ride the trains, give out leaflets for the Canal Bridge appeal, explain the project and of course to welcome donations. Over £900 was raised, together with goodwill and enhanced understanding about the 'Bridge to the Future' project. Thanks to all concerned for their contributions.

The next appearance of the Friends stand and operating Bridge model will be at the highly recommended Nottingham model railway exhibition on 17-18 March at Harvey Hadden Sports Village, NG8 4PB. Call by if you’re visiting!

Photos at Rushcliffe Halt by: David Rae Top Bob Stephens [lower]

Crossing the Canal – Bridging the Gap part two!

Crossing the Canal

Bridging the Gap part two!

With our new bridge across the Midland Main Line almost complete we are now turning our attention to the next phase of the project. We want to work on the existing canal bridge at Loughborough which needs repairing.

For the all the details please visit our dedicate Crossing the Canal webpage at

The Diesel Brake Tender

The forthcoming Lash Hurrah event on 18th/19th November will see the unveiling of a new and unique vehicle.

The diesel brake tender was one of those railway vehicles that no one paid any attention to until they had all gone. At the end of the 1950’s British Railways was pressing ahead with the mass introduction of new diesel engines to replace the steam engine, as well as a mass replacement of wagons. It was soon discovered that the new diesels did not have the same braking ability as the steam engines they were replacing and not all the new wagons had train brakes either. This resulted in British Railways converting a number of old carriages that were also being replaced into weights that could be used to assist the diesels when stopping these unbraked trains. By the late 1970’s when most unfitted goods trains had either been upgraded or replaced the use of these tenders was no longer required, so they fell into disuse and were scrapped.

The vehicles could be seen all over the country, with many being allocated to the Nottingham area for use on the many coal trains that operated from the regions collieries.

None survived into preservation, but a group of engineers from 'Railway Vehicle Preservations', based on the Great Central Railway, decided to build a new one to enable demonstrations to be recreated using the extensive wagon and diesel collections based on the railway. In exceptional cases they also saw use on passenger trains.

The new diesel brake tender is expected to work all weekend at the Last Hurrah and can be seen on goods trains and some passenger services.

FoGCML 2018 calendar

FoGCML 2018 calendar.

Friends of the Great Central Main Line have produced a 2018 calendar with all proceeds going to the Reunification Project appeal.

Thirteen exceptional pictures from talented photographers will take you through the year. The calendar is A3 is size with room to write appointments.

Each calendar costs £10 and will soon be available from the Emporium at Loughborough Central station. Alternatively you can pre-order one by emailing the Chairman of the Friends of the Great Central Main Line

Flying Scotsman steams through Loughborough

World-famous steam locomotive Flying Scotsman hauled a main line railtour "The Cathedrals Express" through Loughborough early this afternoon, passing under the GCR's new bridge.

60103 has passed the site recently during the construction of the abutments and a small crowd gathered on the A60 road bridge to witness the recently restored loco pass by.

The charter had left London Victoria at 08:43 on route to York with a booked arrival time of 15:52.

We look forward in years to come to GCR trains passing over the completed bridge which will eventually provide us with a connection to the national network.

The bridge over the Midland Main Line is the first major milestone in achieving our long term goal of an 18-mile heritage railway. See for more details on the project.


Bridge installation takes place!

With a crowd looking on, the GCR's new bridge across the Midland Main Line has taken a major step forward with the two main beams being successfully lowered into place in the early hours of Sunday 3rd September 2017.

A more detailed account of events is available at


You may well have seen the Friends of the Great Central Main Line stand when visiting the railway and noticed the great interest that it attracts. The stand is crucial to the FoGCML as it communicates our message about the Great Central, the Bridge and the Friends to members and public alike. The more events that the stand can attend,the more our message will be heard, and the more progress on fundraising we can make.

At the heart of the stand is the "Bridge to the future" model recently updated by David Rae. The model along with the accompanying "Bridge" project video clearly explains the developing project and the impact it will have on the GCR.

However, the stand has to be set up, attended and dismantled. The more events we attend, the more people it requires to run it, with at least two present at any time. Our team now needs more members!

If you want to see the Great Central grow and prosper, the Friends’ membership numbers grow and help to raise funds by selling FoGCML merchandise and seeking donations then please consider joining the team.

The duties are not onerous and involvement ranges from helping out for a few hours through to assisting in setting up and dismantling. You will not need a technical knowledge of 'The Gap' as this is being well covered in media releases, or other aspects of the GCR, but if you are knowledgeable in these areas you can not only help the Friends but also talk about something you care passionately about with all sorts of people.

If any FoGCML member would like to help in any way please email me on

An email address will be essential as that’s how the team communicates.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Many thanks,

Barry Lycett

FoGCML Marketing and Committee Member

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.


Bridge to the Future – Crane assembly begins

The 1,000 Tonne crane which will be used to lift the deck of our new bridge across the Midland Main Line into place is now arriving at the construction site in sections.

The bridge deck is being fabricated off-site and is expected to be lifted into place when the Midland Main Line is closed to traffic.

For the latest updates see

Bridge to the Future – Northern abutment takes shape

On Monday 17th July a photograph arrived from the Bridge to the Future construction site showing the first parts of the northern abutment now in place.

Seen first on Main Line Xtra, the photograph shows concrete sections which began to arrive on Saturday which form a void where concrete will now be poured to form the first level of the abutment to support our bridge across the Midland Main Line.

For the latest news on the Bridge to the Future project, please see

Our next running day

This Wednesday
One steam locomotive and our Diesel Railcar in action this Wednesday.

Locomotive roster to be announced.

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