Main Line On Line

BRIDGE NEWS – ‘pause’ of the electrification programme

Kate Tilley : August 17, 2015 2:21 pm : Main Line

GCR plc Website Statement 17 August 2015

GCR plc met with Network Rail on Friday 14th August to discuss the implication of the Government’s ‘pause’ of the electrification programme.

Currently Network Rail are examining the impact of the Government’s recent announcement and a nationwide review is underway. This is expected to report in September.

Meanwhile GCR plc is considering its options to ensure that the project stays on target. Furthermore Network Rail confirmed that they remain fully supportive of the Bridging the Gap project and are doing all in their power to ensure that the current pause on the electrification programme does not interfere with GCR plc’s original plans.

Part of Network Rail’s assessment will involve looking at which elements of their upgrade programme will still go ahead – such as bridge reconditioning work. However a timescale for this is not yet known.

Currently, GCR plc has been working hard with its Project Managers FJD to complete the preliminary surveys and studies on the rest of the 500 metre ‘Gap’ and if there are further delays on the MML bridge project, other elements of the scheme can be quickly brought forward. These include constructing the new embankment, refurbishing the Canal Bridge, building new abutments and installing one of our existing bridge decks over Railway Terrace.



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Weekend Shed Tours 8th & 9th August

Paul Taylor : July 28, 2015 9:00 am : Main Line

Volunteer members of the Boscastle team will be offering informative tours of the Loughborough Locomotive Shed (not normally open to visitors) on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th August.

Tour times are at 10.30, 11.00, 11.30,  12.00, 12.30;    13.30, 14.00, 14.30, 15.00, 15.30, 16.00 (Sat only), 16.30 (Sat only).

Party size is limited to 12, with only one group in the shed at any one time.

Tour lasts half an hour:  please allow 10 mins. to walk to the shed prior to the tour and 10 mins. to walk back again.

Loco Shed Scene - Dennis Wilcock


There is no charge for the tour, but donations towards the overhaul of Rebuilt ‘West Country’ Class 4-6-2 no. 34039 Boscastle will be much appreciated – especially in view of the major work needed on the firebox.   Illustrated Shed Guidebook available for £3, only from your Guide – a unique ‘Boscastle’ publication.

PLEASE NOTE:  Visitors are required to be in possession of valid GCR travel tickets or platform tickets.   Tours are not suitable for children under 6, or for pushchairs.

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Bridge to the Future latest

Tom Ingall : July 20, 2015 1:48 pm : Main Line


Landmark heritage project continues despite Midland Main Line Electrification ‘pause’.

Network Rail offer continued support and volunteer time.

The Great Central Railway’s landmark project to create an eighteen mile heritage railway remains on course to succeed. Despite the government announcing work to electrify the Midland Main Line has been paused, Network Rail will still assist the heritage line in building a critical new bridge.

Reuniting the two halves of the Great Central in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire requires five hundred metres of Victorian railway to be replaced. A key component is a new bridge to carry the heritage trains over the four tracks of the Midland Line at Loughborough. This structure was originally expected to be installed during work to electrify the Midland Line later this year.

The decision regarding electrification will mean the timescale to install the new bridge will change. However, at a recent meeting Network Rail and the Great Central re-iterated their joint commitment to complete the work. In time this will ultimately allow the rest of the reunification project to be completed.

Bill Ford, the Managing Director of the Great Central Railway said, “Naturally, both the GCR and our partners at Great Central Railway Nottingham on the other side of the ‘gap’ are disappointed the construction of the bridge will slip back. However, we are very pleased that Network Rail still want to help deliver the structure. They have been very supportive, despite the changes they face following the decision to pause electrification work. Work is accelerating on the other elements of our plan to create an eighteen mile heritage line, so with the time pressure of imminent electrification removed, we are looking afresh at the construction sequence.”

Haven’t donated yet? Please support the project here

Nine hundred and twenty thousand pounds has been raised towards the building of the bridge after the GCR launched a nationwide appeal in 2013. The money has been donated by railway enthusiasts around the world and by many others in the local community. Some of the opportunities for saving money on the scheme, created by carrying out the bridge construction at the same time as electrification have now been lost. As a result more money may be required to complete this element of reunification.

Richard Walker, Route Delivery Director, Network Rail, said: “We are understandably disappointed that electrification has been paused, but in every challenge lies the seed of opportunity. We now have additional time to  review the way in which the bridge works at Great Central Railway are delivered. Our commitment to supporting GCR remains unchanged: we have already had huge success by engaging with local schools and inspiring the engineers of tomorrow, and we look forward to continuing that throughout the project.”

Public money has not been invested in the project but several members of staff from Network Rail have freely given their time to the community led scheme.

Bill Ford concluded, “So many people across the country, young and old have donated towards the cost of the new bridge. Together with our plans for a new railway museum at Leicester North, the reunification vision represent a real legacy for future generations. Our plans may change slightly, but we are determined to succeed with the support of Network Rail. This is a project which is moving forward and the support we have had across the board is very gratefully received and inspires us to go forward!”

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Bridge to the Future appeal reaches £900k

Tom Ingall : June 1, 2015 12:40 pm : Main Line

Appeal experiences ‘museum bounce’

Construction work expected to get underway in the autumn

The Great Central Railway’s Bridge to the Future appeal has now raised nine hundred thousand pounds, within sight of its million pound target. The money will be used to construct a new railway bridge across the Midland Main Line, part of a chain of infrastructure which will ultimately reunite two halves of the GCR. This will create an eighteen mile heritage railway.

Donations to the appeal have surged forward in the last week, following news that the Heritage Lottery Fund have earmarked almost ten million pounds for the separate Leicester Railway Museum project.

“The support for the Bridge to the Future project continues to inspire us,” said GCR Managing Director Bill Ford. “The local community have come together with railway enthusiasts around the world to raise a significant sum and we’re very grateful. We are just £100,000 short of our initial million pound target which is a tremendous achievement.”

As the project (a partnership with Network Rail) develops, construction work on the bridge has been moved back from summer to autumn 2015. This is to tie in with work on the nearby A60 road bridge over the Midland Main Line, as part of the electrification project. Contractors on the two projects will able to share equipment and site compound space, making the most efficient use of resources.

“We look forward to physical work starting relatively soon and reaching our one million pound funding goal.” concluded Bill. “Behind the scenes, much work has been done to prepare the way for the rest of the reunification project. The Midland Main Line bridge is just the start of a very exciting heritage adventure.”


To donate to the appeal, download an appeal form at or send a cheque made payable to the David Clarke Railway Trust to ‘Bridge Appeal, Lovatt House, Wharncliffe Road, Loughborough, LE11 1SL

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Tom Ingall : May 20, 2015 2:00 am : Main Line, News Banner




The Great Central Railway, The National Railway Museum and Leicester City Council are delighted to announce plans for a new railway museum in the city are firmly on track. The new attraction, “Main Line” will see iconic locomotives on display and tell the story of how the railways changed the city. It has received earmarked funding of £9.5M from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The building will sit alongside the Leicester North terminus of the Great Central Railway, with heritage trains arriving alongside the exhibitions. Development funding of just under £500,000 has also been awarded to help the partnership progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a later date.

NRM locomotive departs from Loughborough on GCR.  (c) RICK EBORALL

Sole surviving GCR freight engine, Class O4 number 63601 will be on display at the new museum. It is seen here running on the GCR before being withdrawn from service. Picture by Rick Eborall

“We are thrilled by the support from the Heritage Lottery Fund” said Bill Ford, Managing Director of the Great Central Railway. “Main Line will combine our award winning double track main line railway with a unique collection of priceless locomotives and objects, preserving them for future generations. The museum will not only tell railway stories, but will aim to engage people with their own history, so they are inspired to be heritage champions in future.”

The building will be designed with floor to ceiling glass windows. Close up views of trains arriving at the adjacent station will provide a dramatic context for the static exhibits. Personal histories and small objects will help interpret the railways’ role in everyday life and how they transformed the city, helping businesses boom and communities change.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “This news means that we’re a step closer to creating an exciting new visitor attraction that will preserve and showcase the city’s rich railway heritage, while creating important new jobs. ‘Main Line’ will house items which are of both national importance and local interest, complementing the nearby National Space Centre and Abbey Pumping Station and helping to enhance Leicester’s reputation as a visitor destination. We’re extremely proud to be part of this partnership and delighted by the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, which is another clear vote of confidence in the city.”

300 short-term construction jobs will be created while the museum is built and 9 full-time posts once open. As part of the bid process an economic impact study has been carried out which demonstrates the museum and railway will be worth £39million for the local economy over five years. In turn this additional spending could create more than 700 jobs in the area.

The exhibits will be drawn from the prestigious national railway collection, which is predominantly focussed on two sites in the north. Paul Kirkman, Director of the National Railway Museum said, “We’re delighted that the plans for this exciting project are firmly on track. Leicester had one of the world’s earliest railways. It was also a hub of the Midland line. When the GCR opened in 1899 it was a calling point on the high speed railway of the time. The new museum will ensure that key parts of the national collection are accessible at the heart of the country for the first time, but just as important we hope to inspire a new generation to get involved in our nation’s railway story. This is a project with strong local connections but with benefits that will be felt nationally.”

Work has already been undertaken to ensure the museum properly reflects the diverse communities it will serve, with the project team recognising, valuable social history will be lost if it isn’t recorded. Atul Patel, Trustee at the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “The Great Central has
had a lasting impact on industrial and cultural life in this area and this investment will continue the railway’s important role. Thanks to National Lottery players, a world class museum will now be created providing a new home to some of our most significant objects and archives which together tell the story of the British railways. Alongside nearby attractions, the new museum will help to establish the city as a major tourism destination, and attract wider audiences.”

The Main Line museum will work in synergy with the Great Central Railway’s event programme and provide greater opportunity for local schools and communities to engage in learning activities. A key element will be to demonstrate how the tremendous feats of Victorian engineering can still inspire the engineers of the future.

National Railway Museum locomotive GREEN ARROW (c) STEVE TAYLOR

Green Arrow is one of the National Collection locomotives which will go on display at the museum. Picture by Steve Taylor

Following the completion of the separate Great Central Railway reunification project, the museum will be accessible by rail from right across the East Midlands and the country.

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said:  “National Lottery money continues to make an absolutely vital contribution to our culture and heritage in the UK. I’m thrilled that nine exciting projects across England and Scotland will benefit from this significant £98m investment.

“Whether it’s a new railway museum in Leicester, the Lovell Telescope at Cheshire’s Jodrell Bank or saving the UK’s most vulnerable sound recordings at the British Library – these grants will not only make a lasting difference to local areas and the UK’s wider heritage, but will also use culture to inspire young people to learn more about science and technology for generations to come.”

Bill Ford concluded, “Now the hard work really starts! We have a great partnership in place and will now look to secure match funding to develop the project to the point where we are ready to build it.”

The partnership will be required to make a further bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to confirm the full grant award. Main Line, could be open in 2019.

Q and A for the museum May 2015


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Temporary changes for the morning diesel multiple unit service

Tom Ingall : May 14, 2015 6:51 pm : Main Line

If you’re a regular weekend early bird at the GCR, you’ll know that our first departure of the day from Loughborough or Leicester is often a Diesel Multiple Unit. If you enjoy the scenic views over the drivers shoulder which only a DMU can provide, the good news is, while we’ve sent one vehicle away for repairs, a spare vehicle is in use, so the train can continue to operate.

However, the vehicle being repaired is the one where we’re normally able to offer space for wheelchair users or to store pushchairs or larger luggage. For a short while we won’t be able to offer those facilities on the DMU service. Please accept our apologies and thank you for your understanding. Other trains are unaffected.

51427 departs for repairs May 7th 2015 (Andy Noon) copy

Thanks to GCR volunteer Andy Noon, here’s a picture of vehicle number 51427 (one of the regular diesel multiple unit vehicles) departing by road for body work repairs. It is expected to return before Autumn.

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Swapmeet Switch!

Kate Tilley : April 14, 2015 12:28 pm : Main Line

But historic Railway-ana event remains at Quorn 

The Great Central Railway are pleased to announce that as from 2016 they will take over the running of the ever popular Quorn Railwayana swapmeet.  The event, which has been running continuously for the last 30 years, is the oldest event in the railwayana calendar. 

Bob Withers, event organiser said ‘I have run the event for the last 30 years and I now feel the time is right to hand over to the GCR. I’ve loved working with the railway, but times have changed since losing my wife two years ago.  It’s time for me to hand the event over – it’s never been quite the same since Dilys passed away but I have every confidence GCR will live up to everyone’s expectations.’

The success of the event with its central location and live steam as a backdrop has been built on its simplicity; everybody attending pays a flat rate whether they are buying, selling or just looking.  Great Central Railway have agreed with Bob that they will not make any changes to the event’s successful format in the immediate future.

Michael Stokes from the GCR’s Event Department, who is taking over the event said ‘The swapmeet will complement the many other events arranged for the railway enthusiasts, we are very much looking forward to taking over from Bob, but we realise we’ve a hard act to follow!  Bob is very well respected within the railway and the hobby, but we’re positive we’ll still see him browsing the stalls’

September this year will be the last event under Bob’s stewardship ‘I hope to see many old friends and faces from the last 30 years’ Bob said. ‘It’s ironic that being a collector of Leicestershire totems I have virtually a complete set apart from Quorn and Woodhouse which is my Holy Grail’ he concluded.

If you are not familiar with the event, it is run on a car boot style and takes place at Quorn & Woodhouse station yard three times a year. The next event takes place on Sunday 31st May.



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Grand Spring Raffle 2015 – dozens of great prizes!

Dennis Wilcock : April 5, 2015 6:50 pm : Main Line

The David Clarke Railway Trust annual Grand Spring Draw administered by Friends of the Great Central Main Line will this year support the Bridge to the Future Appeal and the restoration of Southern Railway West Country Pacific No.34039 “Boscastle”. By early April £5000 has been raised.34039-300x236

Both are projects of great importance to the Great Central Railway. Wouldn’t it be ideal if the first locomotive to cross the new bridge over the Midland Main Line was none other than No.34039 the first main line steam locomotive to arrive on the preserved GCR way back in January, 1973.

Members of Friends will have received their raffle tickets with the posting of Main Line No.162. All members are urged to support the raffle that will benefit two such deserving causes. The draw will take place on Loughborough Central station at 4pm on Sunday 14th June.

Send your sold stubs by 10th June to Andy Fillingham, Spinney Close, Main Street, Kibworth Harcourt, Leicester LE8 0NQ. If you’d like to buy some more please contact Andy at the same address.

  • There are a large number of prizes as follows:
  • An East Midlands Trains Cab Ride along the Midland Main Line to London
    Two First Class Tickets for any Railway Touring Company of Great Britain Rail Tour
    Complimentary overnight stay including breakfast and a bottle of wine at The Sheffield Metropolitan Hotel
    Pair of East Midlands Trains First Class tickets on a route of your choice
    A GCR Bronze Footplate experience
    Two pairs of Lunch for Two on a GCR Dining Service including a bottle of wine
    A footplate ride on a GCR locomotive between Loughborough Central and Leicester North
    Visit to Taylor’s Bell Foundry for a family of four
    Eight individual prizes of a bottle of whiskey including Bushmills, Glenlivet and Black Label
    A Boscastle one pint Tankard
    One 1000 piece jigsaw of Kings of the Road depicting a painting by Malcolm Root, Fellow of the Guild of Railway Artists
    One framed print of 9F No.92212
    Bottle of Champagne and a box of chocolates
    One Amazon Gift Card for £25
    One Waterstones Gift Voucher for £20
    One Boots Gift Voucher for £25
    One GCR Gift Token for £30
    One supermarket Gift Voucher for £25
    Various Railway Books

The draw will take place at Loughborough Central at 4pm on Sunday 14th June, 2015

The raffle tickets have been included in the posting of Main Line No.162

Ticket stubs should be sent to and more tickets obtained from
Draw Promoter: Andy Fillingham, Spinney Close, Main Street, Kibworth Harcourt, Leicester, LE8 0NQ

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