Main Line Xtra

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

Midweek operations – unusual trains

When public services are not running, shunting operations and trip working are a regular occurrence at GCR with trains often containing vehicles not often seen together in regular service. On Tuesday 27th June an unusual train was formed in the "Up Through" siding at Loughborough ready for departure.

Visiting class 08 shunting locos 08683 and 08480 are seen in top-and-tail formation with a Mark 1 TSO coach number 4948 and two open goods wagons. These vehicles travelled along the line with the wagons returning to Quorn after the sidings were cleared to allow for the large marquee at The Model Event in mid-June, and the coach was delivered to the Carriage & Wagon works at Rothley for routine maintenance.

An “out of period” visitor to Rothley

In a brief distraction from railway activity, the peace of an ordinary Wednesday morning at Rothley Station was disturbed for 30 minutes by a rather modern but nevertheless essential visitor. A National Grid helicopter was seen carrying out inspections on the nearby electricity pylons and cables which run parallel with GCR for a short distance.

Visitors to the station enquired about the source of a mysterious noise as the trees which border the station initially obscured any view, before the helicopter appeared above the tree line. It is believed that a thermal imaging camera was in use to check for faults in the electricity cables.

The pylons run parallel with the GCR to the north of Rothley before crossing above the line at the south end of Swithland Sidings.

Great Central Museum – Work progress

Announcement - 14th December 2017.

We regret to report that the Heritage Lottery Fund has informed Great Central Railway that it will not be supporting plans for a new railway museum at Leicester North.

The full News Release giving details can be downloaded here.

Media Interviews

Courtesy of the BBC.

BBC Radio Leicester - Interview with Sir Peter Soulsby, Leicester City Mayor - Friday 15th December 2017.


BBC Radio Leicester - Interview with Michael Gough, Managing Director of Great Central Railway - Tuesday 19th December 2017.



Previous updates up to 14th December 2017.

Planning is now well underway for the new museum at Leicester North, which will be part funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and built next to the existing Great Central Railway station. The project is a partnership between the GCR, Leicester City Council and the National Railway Museum, and is planned to open to visitors in 2020/21.


In 2015, the GCR secured a first round pass from the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of a £10m grant allocation to build the museum which will house locomotives, carriages and other significant items, including from the NRM’s collection. The many exhibits will tell the story of how the GCR and other railways contributed to the social and economic history of Leicester and the County. The estimated cost of the museum is £18m with the HLF contributing £10m.


Architects WilkinsonEyre were selected last autumn with a winning outline design. Since then there has been continual refinement of the design details, involving discussion with the in-house track and signalling volunteers. They have produced a series of revised proposals including an alternative turntable position, a second (island) platform and buffer stops.

Drawing of the winning design looking south - Click image to enlarge

Drawing of the winning design looking south (this image does not show platform canopy extension or a second platform) - Click image to enlarge

Belgrave and Birstall looking south

The same view, during re-instatement of the track by volunteers in the late 1980s. The museum will be partly on the site of the former Belgrave and Birstall station – part of the old platform may be re-built.


"Iconic building" selected for new Leicester city railway museum - Click on image to enlarge

Aerial view of the winning design showing large external event space - Click on image to enlarge


Museum site plan concept - March 2017

Updated indicative site layout at Leicester North, March 2017 - Click to enlarge.


A museum project update and consultation meeting for volunteers and the public.

A museum project update and consultation meeting for volunteers and the public.


Leicester North will be a major new destination attracting visitors to the city from central England, nationally and from overseas.

Leicester North will be a major new destination attracting visitors to the city from central England, nationally and from overseas.


The railway is now recruiting a range of expert advisors to help with museum planning, as part of the HLF’s Development grant funding.  These essential members of the team include project managers, quantity surveyors (to pin down estimated costs), activity planners (to help consult with local communities) and a Business Development Manager (to help fund-raise for the project).
We are consulting with local schools, as learning will be a major feature of the new museum:

Message for teachers and tutors:

If you could please complete this survey, it will really help the plans. It should take about 5-10 minutes. All completed questionnaires will be entered into a draw to win one of two £50 Amazon vouchers. 

Visitor views survey.
Thank you to everyone who has taken part in our recent survey asking for views and ideas for the new museum.  These are being analysed for details, which will be incorporated in the Activity Plan for the museum.  There will be further announcements of opportunities to feed ideas into the museum creation process in the future.  The winner of the survey prize draw will be notified shortly.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund
Major Grants Programme applications are assessed in two rounds. A first-round pass is given when HLF has endorsed outline proposals and earmarked funding. A first-round pass may also include an immediate award to fund the development of the project. Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at second-round and as long as plans have progressed satisfactorily and according to the original proposal, an award for the project is confirmed.
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. @heritagelottery

Do you want to be part of our big project?
We are currently looking for volunteers to help with the following areas –
• Research on exhibition themes
• Assessing objects to the new museum
• Seeking and recording people’s memories
• Surveying the public and promoting the museum

If you can help with any of these, or would like more information, please get in touch at or call 01509 633853.

Heritage Lottery Fund

Bridge to the Future at the Model Event

Thank you to everyone who visited the Bridge to the Future / Friends of the Great Central Main Line stand at the recent GCR model railway event. Hundreds of people came to ask about the project and make a donation. Your support makes the work possible. A key attraction was the updated model of the project, now complete with a moving freight train - hauled by Ivatt 2 46521 no less. It’s great to be able to talk to people about the project and show them where the work is now going on!

The model was originally built by Alan Brassey and has been revised by David Rae. The project team would like to thanks Friends of the Great Central Main Line, FJD consulting, the David Clarke Railway Trust, Bachmann Europe PLC and the family of Mr Stan Tombs.

The Friends need you! Appeal to FoGCML Members

It is intended to present the FoGCML stand at a more regular number of events generally at the GCR
throughout the year in order to have more contact with visitors and members , get feedback from
members, inform members and visitors about the progress of the "Bridge", promote the railway
and events and promote FoGCML membership, raise funds via sales and donations and offer
members the opportunity to view and purchase exclusive FoGCML items without incurring P&P

When the "Bridge to the future" model update is completed by David Rae and returned for use on
the FoGCML stand, it will be accompanied by an explanatory video kindly being produced by Tom
Ingall, this will make the project mainly self explanatory, allowing the stand volunteers to
concentrate on answering any questions arising and conducting other functions of the stand.
No technical knowledge of the project will be required by volunteers, just the ability to engage and
enjoy contact with visitors and members.

In order to carry this out on a regular basis to benefit and support the railway we need additional
volunteers to join the existing team to help on the stand during these events but equally importantly
to help to prepare the stand equipment usually the day before the event commences and to return
the equipment into storage after the event.

To join the team you not have to commit on a regular basis, perhaps just a few hours occasionally to
help spread the workload and give others on the stand a break, all offers of assistance would be very
much appreciated and would help to support the GCR and FoGCML.

If any member would like to help in any way please contact me on or
contact the Volunteers Support Team at Lovatt House on 01509 633853 , giving your name,
membership number and contact details, asking them to pass the details on to me and I will call you

Once accepted your details will be passed on to the FoGCML stand support team who will contact
you when the stand is to be present at an event to see if you are available to assist.

Many thanks,
Barry Lycett
FoGCML Marketing Volunteer and Committee Member

70013 Oliver Cromwell due to return 10th/11th June

70013 Oliver Cromwell is due to return to action this weekend 10th/11th June subject to the successful completion of a steam test on Friday.

The British Railways Standard Class 7 (Britannia class) loco has been out of traffic in recent weeks while awaiting delivery of new superheater elements which have been installed at the GCR's Loughborough Locomotive Works.

70013 is due to return to main line charter duties shortly.

A member of a class of 55, 70013 "Oliver Cromwell" was built at Crewe and completed on 30th May 1951 and is famous for working part of the Fifteen Guinea Special (1T57), the final steam railtour on British Railways in 1968 before the introduction of a steam ban.



Bridge to the Future – Piling on the pressure!


Piling machine on site 26th May 2017

Piling on the pressure!
Physical work continues at the site of the new bridge over the Midland Main Line at Loughborough. However, the contractors have encountered an unexpected problem and we need your help.

As far back as January 2014 ground samples were taken around the site of the northern and southern bridge abutments. Now work has begun to drive concrete piles into the ground which will support the abutments. Unfortunately the piling machine has encountered water, which wasn't revealed in the test drilling.

This is not a technical problem but it does mean switching the current piling machine on site for a much larger one which can handle the previously hidden water. This - and the resulting short delay plus larger piles now needed - is likely to incur an extra cost of approximately one hundred thousand pounds.

Once again we need to ask you to help. Spread across the entire readership of the weekly newsletter and the members of Friends, this can be achieved with lots of small contributions, particularly when gift aid is applied. Please donate on line at Alternatively a new Bridge to the Future flyer is included with the next edition of Main Line magazine, due on doormats in the next week or so. Every penny we receive really helps us - and the reunification project to move forward.

N Gauge Model Railway Sales to support the Bridge project

The Friends have been gifted a collection of N Gauge scale model railway carriages, wagons, buildings and sundry items. These are all high quality, the rolling stock is mainly from Graham Farish, Peco and Dapol. The buildings are a mixture of plastic and card assembled kits. Please note there are no locomotives or powered items.

The collection was gifted by Friend and volunteer Michael Tombs, whose father owned the items. Selected items are being used to enhance the Bridge model display, but most of the collection is being offered for sale to contribute to fundraising for the Bridge. We wish to thank Michael for his generous donation.

There are three file catalogues which can be downloaded:


N Gauge model carriages - priced


N Gauge model wagons - priced


N Gauge model buildings - priced

Items can be reserved in advance for collection only at the GCR Model Gala on 16-19 June, where there will be a Friends stand in the Marquee at Quorn. Items will not be posted owing to the cost, risk of damage and work involved.
Every item has a serial number in the catalogue. You can check the items you wish to buy are available and reserve them by sending an email to Barry Lycett listing the serial numbers accurately, and including your Friends membership number.

To guarantee these, send a cheque payable to The Great Central Railway to Barry Lycett at his postal address which he will give on receipt of your email. Your cheque must be received by 12 June, and will not be cashed until after you collect your models at the Gala. Include your Friends membership number and telephone number.

For purchases totalling £30 or over, you can deduct a 10% discount from the value of your order.

To collect your models, come to the Friends stand and show your Friends membership card to collect your models. You will be able to check the condition before accepting these. If you do not wish to accept some or all items, your cheque will be returned and you can pay any balance in cash.
A copy of the catalogues will be available at the Model Gala, for Friends and visitors to buy unsold items from the collection at the event.

Contact details: Barry Lycett, Email:

Renaissance Railcars Appeal

Renaissance Railcars DMUs

Work is underway on Renaissance Railcars next restoration project after a successful start to their recent appeal. The group need to raise around £6000 to get number 50203 back into service. The vehicle, which is the oldest member of Renaissance’s fleet, turns sixty next month. It arrived at the GCR back in 2003 and was stored awaiting its turn in the restoration queue. Not only does it require body work, but control gear reinstalling and rewiring.

Hundred of pounds have been raised so far after a flyer was sent out with the last Main Line. “We’d like to thank everyone who has donated so far,” said Tom Ingall of the group. “This is an appeal where small amounts really do make a difference. With hundreds raised to celebrate the significant birthday of number 50203 we look forward to pushing the work forward. If you haven’t donated yet but would like to do so, we’d really welcome your contribution.”

The aim is to have a second DMU set available for traffic on the GCR as soon as possible. This will allow the railway to develop services. It is expected that 50203 will be painted in the mid 1960s livery of all over rail blue and partnered with vehicle number 50266 which will also be repainted from its current unlined green livery.

To donate to the appeal please send a cheque made payable to the DAVID CLARKE RAILWAY TRUST to “DCRT, Lovatt House, 3 Wharncliffe Road, Loughborough, Leics, LE11 1SL” If you have a copy of the appeal flyer, please use it to make a gift aid declaration. Alternatively download the flyer here.

Our next running day

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday
We are running passenger trains on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday this week.

Due to the recent very hot and dry conditions, and the resulting risk of lineside fires, we will be operating an all-diesel service on Thursday.

Class 37 37714 Metro Cammel Diesel Railcar

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