The Great Central Railway is creating a 18 mile steam operated heritage Intercity Main Line from the outskirts of Leicester to the outskirts of Nottingham!
This is the biggest, most adventurous and most exciting project in railway preservation
You can be part of this great enterprise by making a donation here
The Great Central Railway plc and the Great Central Railway (Nottingham) are preparing to reinstate the connection between their two lines at Loughborough that was severed by British Railways in 1973 and 1980. This involves the installation of new and refurbished bridges and the building of new embankments to close the 500m gap left by British Railways. The first stage is the most critical - the manufacture and installation of a new all steel bridge that will cross the Midland Main Line just to the south of the Network Railway station at Loughborough - the Bridge to the Future. This must be completed before the Midland line is electrified and it replaces the original bridge No.328.
The bridge design is complete in collaboration with our engineering consultants FJD Construction. The other bridges to be installed over Railway Terrace, donated by Network Rail after the Reading station remodelling made two bridge decks available, has been mapped out as has the track alignment for the whole scheme.
Refurbishment of the bridge over the Grand Union Canal is expected to be started by the end of 2016 giving better access to the rebuilding of the missing embankments.
This is a multi million pound project with the first stage - the Bridge to the Future - costing over £2M. We have been fortunate to receive a grant from the Leicester and Leicestershire Economic Partnership of £1M as they see its economic benefit to the whole region.
We have also raised over £1.1M from the fantastic support from ordinary members of the public and supporters of the railway who have also seen the exciting benefits that will be realised. You can also be part of this exciting project by making a donation at the Donate link below and be proud to say "I have helped make this happen". We need your support now!
You can also contribute by downloading the donation form here. Standing Orders provide a useful means of spreading the cost and give the railway a predictable income which enables better planning and project management.
Gift Aid on donations, made at no costs to yourselves, gives an enormous boost to any donations you make and we urge you to consider this form of giving.
A very important aspect of the project is to involve young people in the project so that they can get first hand experience of being involved in a major engineering project. Through the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiative local school children will be involved in the project and will devise their own solutions to the various problems that have to be tackled in a project of this type. It is hoped that the children will be enthused about engineering and technical matters and will have a better understanding of the world of employment by involvement in the project.
This aspect of the project is supported by the Institution of Civil Engineers (who will provide STEM Ambassidors) and the universities of Leicester and Loughborough who will provide technical advice and facilities.
Whole Line Map
Click here to see a map of the line from Leicester to Nottingham. Please note: The map includes reference to a new museum at Leicester North. This is the subject of a Heritage Lottery Fund award with construction anticipated to start in 2017.
History and Background
The history and background to the project may be found in an article published in the Railway Magazine in November, 2013. Click here to go to the article.
27th May, 2016
At the completion of the tendering process a preferred bidder has been selected to build the bridge abutments and construct and install the new all steel bridge. After further formalities are completed, particularly with Network Rail, the contract will be awarded with construction due to start by the end of the summer.
26th April, 2016
On 26th April, 2016 students from Woodbrook Vale School and Limehurst Academy in Loughborough visited the Great Central Railway as part of a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programme. The reunification of the Great Central Railway is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for schools to be actively involved in a major heritage railway construction project and to find out how STEM subjects are used in civil engineering. This is the second year that GCR, the Leicestershire Education Business Company (LEBC) and STEM Ambassadors have worked together to produce an eight week programme which takes students through all the various stages of building a railway – from planning and consultation, through the design and modelling stages to the construction and installation. This year the Institution of Civil Engineers is also a partner in the programme. The STEM programme is adapted to take advantage of whatever work is being carried out on site. Last year students undertook ecology surveys and examined soil and rock taken from boreholes on the south embankment. This year, students visited the bridge over the Grand Union Canal to study the effects of corrosion on iron structures and to learn from FJD, the work that will need to be undertaken to restore the bridge to its former glory. Samples of the rusted iron were taken back to the classroom for analysis and a further session on the properties of various metals used in construction projects. The second part of the visit took place on the north embankment where students worked with a geologist to examine the various layers of soil which lay underneath the old embankment recently removed to facilitate work on erecting a new bridge over the Midland Main Line. Samples taken from this site will also be used as part of a classroom session which will look at the specific geology in the immediate area where the bridge will be erected. Students will then work out how deep the concrete piles have to go to reach a solid base to support the new steel bridge. The programme now continues with further sessions and a grand finale to be held on 1st July, 2016 at the University of Loughborough with Nicky Morgan MP, Secretary of State for Education and Sir John Armitt, President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, addressing the students and presenting British Science Association CREST Awards.
23rd April, 2016
Tenders for the construction and installation of the all new steel bridge across the Midland line are due in at the end of April. It is expected that a contract will be let to the successful company in May with construction of the abutments starting in the summer.
3rd April, 2016
The construction sites north and south the Midland line have been prepared and are ready for the installation of the bridge abutments.
3rd March, 2016
Work is underway on the bridge construction sites north and south of the Midland Main Line. Vegetation is being cleared, the sites levelled and fenced and part of the original north embankment being cleared and material sorted for use on the new embankments.
12th February, 2016
The big day! The GCR's Reunification Project is underway. Nicky Morgan, MP for Loughborough cut the first sod the commence the construction of the bridge over the Midland Main Line - the Bridge to the Future. Both Nicky and Bill Ford enthused about the start of the project that will not only enable the heritage railway to create its 19 mile intercity main line but, being the spine of a Heritage Corridor between the cities of Leicester and Nottingham will boost the tourist industry in the area and enhance the economy of the East Midlands by bring far more visitors to the area. Local businesses will benefit from the influx and it is estimated that an additional £30M will be brought into the local economy.