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Great Central RailwayFlying Scotsman steams under GCR bridge.

15th September 2017.

Celebrity visitor to Loughborough...

World famous locomotive Flying Scotsman steamed beneath our new bridge in Loughborough today with the Cathedrals Express.

In years to come the bridge will carry GCR trains across the Midland Main Line following the completion of the rest of our gap project including a large embankment and a number of smaller bridges.

The main beams of the new bridge were craned into place in early September with the bridge deck due to be installed during evening closures of the Midland Main Line in the coming weeks.

Donate to the Charity Thank you for your continued support of the project.
We hope you will be able to donate to help us continue to the next stage.


The story so far...

4th September 2017.



With the bridge beams now in place, we have a short video to show the story so far in our Bridge to the Future project.

The bridge installation is a major step forward towards our goal of reconnecting the two halves of the Great Central Railway to create an 18-mile heritage line. See below for more on the bridge installation and the project story so far...


Donate to the Charity Thank you for your continued support of the project.
We hope you will be able to donate to help us continue to the next stage.


A dream becomes reality!

In the early hours of Sunday 3rd September 2017, a long-held ambition to reinstate a demolished GCR bridge across the Midland Main Line at Loughborough has taken a major step forward, with the two main beams of our new bridge now installed after overnight works by contractors.

The assembled crowd watched from the A60 road bridge and nearby Railway Terrace as the two huge sections arrived on site by lorry and were carefully lowered into place by the 1,000 tonne crane which has dominated the Loughborough skyline for the past week.

01:30 - Steelwork arrives on site.
For some time the orange warning lights of the first approaching low-loader which had travelled from Peterborough could be seen from the A60 road bridge. With some careful maneuvering the first bridge beam was delivered to the construction site.
02:20 - First lift begins.
The 1,000 tonne crane begins its work and hoists the steelwork into the air and begins to move into position over the waiting abutments.
02:35 - Steelwork moves into position.
The lifting process is undertaken with great care.
02:40 - Almost there.
The assembled crowd looks on as the alignment is carefully checked by contractors on the ground.
02:45 - First steelwork in place.
The first beam of the new bridge has been successfully lowered into place with the abutments built in recent weeks now taking the weight of the new structure.
03:50 - Second beam.
The assembled crowd looks on as the alignment is carefully checked by contractors on the ground.
04:00 - A view of a bridge.
As the second beam is lowered into place, the view of a bridge across the Midland Main Line is almost complete.


We are delighted to have reached this stage and without your support this would not have been possible.

Over the next few weeks, additional sections which will form the bridge deck will be lowered into place to complete the structure which will one day carry GCR trains across the Midland Main Line for the first time since the late 1960s.

With the bridge complete, attention will move to the next phase of the gap project....


Donate to the Charity Thank you for your continued support of the project.
We hope you will be able to donate to help us continue.


Crane prepares for action!

31st August 2017

We're only days away from the big lift which will see the main sections of our new bridge installed across the Midland Main Line!

This shot gives an indication of the scale of the crane which waits beside the Midland Main Line to undertake the major works.







Please respect this is a building site, our access is by invitation only.


Crane assembly begins!

25th August 2017

The huge 1,000 Tonne crane required to lift our new bridge into place is now being assembled on site!

The crane is being delivered in sections and assembled on site in preparation for lifting of the bridge deck in the near future.

When complete, the bridge deck will be lifted into place during a night when the Midland Main Line can been closed.

The lift is due to take place during September.




Please respect this is a building site, our access is by invitation only.

Donate to the Charity

Thank you for your continued support of the project.
We hope you will be able to donate to help us continue.


Abutments near completion.

17th August 2017



We're delighted to report that the bridge abutments are approaching completion!

Each has reached its full height, save for capping pieces.

In the first picture we're looking south from the tip of the surviving embankment. Ahead is the north abutment, then the Midland Main Line and in the distance the southern abutment. Both have scaffold platforms erected around them to allow the team to access the top of the structure while concrete is poured in.

That's what's happening today on the southern abutment - hence the orange boom. In the far distance is the GCR engine shed.

A number of concrete pours have already taken place. Today on the south abutment the final 86 cubic metres is being poured which will take the level of the concrete almost to the top.

The second picture shows the cement lorry has been attached to another machine with an extendable boom so the concrete can be delivered to the right place. The lorry is standing on what used to be the Preci Spark car park. The abutment is on the right and the photographer is standing on what will one day be the centre line of the reinstated railway, which will cross the foreground on concrete arches and reclaimed bridge decks.

Finally a view from the top of the scaffolding around the southern abutment as the concrete is poured in. The boom is in the centre of the picture. The Midland Main Line is on the left of the picture and one day train passengers will get a view not dissimilar to this as they cross the railway below.

Tomorrow the equivalent concrete pour will take place on the northern abutment. The concrete will be allowed to set before the abutments are completed, prior to the bridge decks themselves being lifted on.

Please respect this is a building site, our access is by invitation only.

Donate to the Charity

Thank you for your continued support of the project.
We hope you will be able to donate to help us continue.


Abutment progress - the second level.

12th August 2017

Progress continues swiftly on the bridge abutments on both sides of the Midland Main Line as contruction moves ever closer to the main bridge deck being craned into place.

After the first layer of the abutment structure was succesfully filled with concrete a second ring of precast concrete blocks has been assembled and secured in place.

The photograph shows the void in the second level which will shortly be filled with concrete, with the construction workers giving a sense of scale.

The metal stanchons in the photo will rise to the third level of the abutment structure which will be constructed in the coming days with the precast concrete sections which will form the outer ring of this level already on site.

A final shot of the site gives an overview of progress. Our Bridge to the Future is close to becoming a reality!

Please respect this is a building site, our access is by invitation only.

Donate to the Charity

Thank you for your continued support of the project.
We hope you will be able to donate to help us continue.


Abutments begin to take shape.

26th July 2017



The concrete units which form the base layer of the northern abutment have now all been installed and tied together with steel brackets.

Metal tie bars (five tonnes worth) are now being fitted to secure the structure to the piles. Once the metal work is complete, concrete will be poured here right to the lip of the concrete units. That should happen later this week.

In the first picture you can see workmen locating a black sleeve into the corner of the structure. Sixteen metal uprights will protrude through these sleeves and slot through pre drilled holes in the next layer of concrete units. These have already arrived on site (see picture two).

Meanwhile our contractors worked through a very wet Saturday night to fit the concrete units together to form the base layer of the southern abutment.

The side closest to the camera in picture three has been painted with a waterproof coating. This face will sit entirely either below ground level or adjoining another future structure. On the opposite side a small layer of blocks will form the external face - these two will be hidden below ground level. The exposed faces will be fronted with engineering blue bricks. Metal work will installed inside this concrete ring shortly, ahead of another concrete pour. The second layer of concrete units has also arrived for this side too.


Please respect this is a building site, our access is by invitation only.

Donate to the Charity

Thank you for your continued support of the project.
We hope you will be able to donate to help us continue.


First concrete sections arrive.

15th July 2017



The piling rig has gone having completed its work - and a large crane has taken its place!

The crane's job is to lift sixteen preformed concrete sections into place. They will form the base of the northern side abutment for the new bridge.

The position of the eight piles is shown by the metal work rising out of the ground. A thin layer of concrete has been laid to give a base for the concrete sections to stand on. The concrete sections will form a quadrilateral which will be tied together using steel brackets. Then the resulting 'hole' will be filled by concrete. Once that has set more sections will be lifted on to form a second level.

On the site of the south abutment the piling is finished. A thin layer of concrete will support fourteen preformed concrete sections. The southern abutment will be slightly smaller than the northern one. From the picture it's clear the new formation will be slightly further south than the original (the blue brick abutment wall carried the original bridge.) The grey building is the Preci Spark factory.

The concrete sections here will be installed overnight when the Midland Mainline is closed. This is because the crane will need to sit in the former car park area behind the blue brick wall and lift the sections over it(ie towards the railway.) This work is expected to take place in a weeks time.

Please respect this is a building site, our access is by invitation only.

Donate to the Charity

Thank you for your continued support of the project.
We hope you will be able to donate to help us continue.


Flying Scotsman steams past the site.

1st July 2017

World famous steam locomotive "Flying Scotsman" steamed past the Bridge to the Future construction site on 1st July with a main line railtour.

Crowds gathered to see the famous locomotive pass at speed.

With your help we will again have our own connection to the national rail network when the whole project to "bridge the gap" is completed, allowing future main line railtours to call at GCR stations.

Donate to the Charity


We can only continue the work on this exciting project with your support, and donations are most gratefully received.

Thank you for your support!


Bridge work strides forward on two fronts!

29th June 2017



Despite foul weather on site the contractors building the new bridge across the Midland Main Line are now working on two fronts. At the site of the new northern abutment all eight piles have now been driven to a depth of 14 metres. The ground has been lowered around the piles, so each one sticks out of the ground. Excess concrete which is not required is being cut away, leaving a small concrete base and metal rods sticking out of the ground. In the pictures work is underway to remove the concrete from one of the piles and two more remain to be excavated.


The base of the abutment will sit in the hole in the ground. Preformed concrete sections will be bolted together to form a wall and concrete poured in. This work is a few weeks away yet.

Meanwhile the piling rig was moved in the early hours of Monday morning via the adjacent road bridge over the Midland Main Line to the site of the southern bridge abutment. Again eight piles need to be driven, at the time of writing one has been completed already.



Finally, a view across the whole site showing the work in progress for both abutments and in the far distance the distinctive outline of Loughborough’s locomotive shed. The new bridge crosses behind the signal gantry on the right of the picture. The PreciSpark factory is the grey building in the mid ground on the right of the picture. In the centre of the picture is a road bridge over a brook. This is the access road to the refuse tip known as Railway Terrace. The reinstated line of the Great Central will have to cross Railway Terrace which it will do using a donated bridge deck. That bridge will be installed (as a future phase of the scheme) behind where the piling rig is. The new formation will be slightly further towards the left of the picture than the original route.

Donate to the CharityIf you enjoy seeing the films and pictures, please consider making a donation here.
We can only continue the work on this exciting project with your support.

Thank you!


Bridge to the Future at The Model Event

19th June 2017

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 made 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.


Piling work underway!

9th June 2017

Work at the site of the new bridge over the Midland Main Line steps up a gear.

The large piling rig has moved into place and started driving the first of eight piles required to support the north abutment. The new bridge will carry GCR heritage trains over the Midland Main Line at Loughborough. It is part of a chain of infrastructure required to unify two halves of the Great Central Railway and create an 18 mile railway.

A pile driving machine of this size has been brought in because of the high water table. Each of the piles will go down 14 metres into the ground. Once it has finished, it will be loaded onto a low loader and then driven via local roads approximately a quarter of a mile, to end up 30 metres away on the site of the southern bridge abutment! Again there are eight piles to drive on this side. This week, a low brick wall (part of the original southern GCR bridge abutment constructed ahead of the opening of the railway in 1899) was removed to allow the pile driving machine access. The new railway will have a centre line fractionally further to the south than the 1899 alignment.

When the piling rig has left the north side, the abutment itself will start to appear, which will ultimately support the new bridge deck. The work is expected to be completed before the end of the year.

In the meantime work is continuing in the background to prepare the paperwork for the next stage of the reunification scheme.

With design work well underway a planning application will follow in due course.

The Great Central Railway is still raising funds for the reunification project.

Donate to the CharityYou can donate online here and your support is very gratefully received. Thank you.


Piling on the pressure.

26th May 2017

Physical work continues at the site of the new bridge over the Midland Main Line at Loughborough.

The new piling machine on site on 26th May 2017However, 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 original piling machine on site for a much larger one (pictured) 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.

Donate to the CharityOnce again we need to ask you to help. Spread across the entire readership of this site, 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 online by clicking this link. 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.

The new piling machine on site on 26th May 2017The new piling machine on site on 26th May 2017





Markings in preparation for pilingSteam at the Bridge to the Future site
5th April 2017

A sign of things to come as LMS Princess Coronation Class 46233 "Duchess of Sutherland" passed our Bridge to the Future construction site with a main line railtour on 5th April.

In the meantime work continues on site as the reinstatement of the bridge over the Midland Main Line moves ever closer.



Markings in preparation for pilingFirst week of progress
30st March 2017

Sensors have been placed on the Network Rail Midland Mainline track – this is to monitor any vibration which could be caused by the piling machine which will be on site next week as part of the construction of the abutments. The work was completed by MPB engineers during period when the line was closed to trains over a series of nights.

- An access route has been created between the north and south site underneath the MML track adjacent to the brook which runs alongside the site next to the recycling centre.

The south abutment site- The Preci Spark car park has been lowered and the surface completely removed – rubble has been transported to the north site for alter use as part of the reconstruction of the new embankment.

- The site has been marked out for the piling work.

- Temporary drainage has been installed to avoid water from the site draining into the brook.



Plant at work Heavy machinery at work on the site





View across the Midland Main Line from the northen embankment with Loughborough locomotive shed in the background.Contractors make swift progress!
24th March 2017

Work has moved quickly this week with heavy machinery working on the former car park to prepare the site for the south abutment.

This photograph taken from the northern embankment shows work taking place on the south side of the Midland Main Line, with Loughborough locomotive shed clearly visible at the top of the picture.

"Bridging the Gap" is moving closer to becoming a reality.






An overview of the siteAn overview of the site

A view of the Bridge to the Future worksite on Saturday March 25th 2017. In the mid ground is the embankment which carried the trackbed of the GCR. Now (behind the soil mound) it is occupied by the car park of the Preci Spark factory. In front of that the contractors building the new bridge have created an access road.

Towards the right of the picture where the blue fence and excavator can be seen, a tool shed belonging to Preci Spark has been removed. This is where the new southern abutment of the bridge will be.

In this view we're looking toward the Great Central Railway (Nottingham). Their embankment is caught in sunlight. The northern abutment of the bridge will be constructed behind the palisade fencing.

On the horizon is the famous Brush Traction works where many locomotives, including the Class 31 resident on the GCR was built. The GC (Nottingham) formation curves to the left to run behind the factory as it heads north.

The GCR line to Leicester is behind the photographer.





Great Central RailwayBridge work begins in earnest!


CONSTRUCTION STARTS ON GREAT CENTRAL BRIDGE OVER MIDLAND MAIN LINE
22nd March 2017

View across the Midland Main Line from the southern end of the bridge site.Contractors on site to build new structure, paving the way to an eighteen mile East Midlands heritage line.

The development of an eighteen mile heritage railway across the East Midlands is on track as contractors prepare to build a key bridge. The 30 metre structure will one day carry Great Central Railway trains over the Midland Main Line and should be in place by early Autumn this year.

Contractors are now preparing the ground for the construction work. Work will then move off site as metal is cut and prefabricated sections of concrete are prepared . The bridge itself will be dramatically craned into place over the Midland Main Line.

Plant at work at the site on 22/03/2017After the closure of the original Great Central line by British Rail in 1969, a section of the route survived in the East Midlands. However, when 2 bridges and an embankment were removed it was physically divided into two. Both separate lines have been preserved by enthusiasts for heritage trains. They have committed to link up but five hundred metres of track between them needs to be rebuilt. The new bridge is the first key piece of infrastructure to be reinstated.

Contractor MPB sign at the site.Andy Munro, the Chief Executive of the Great Central Railway said, “Our supporters have waited a long time to see the Victorian link between the two lines restored. Rebuilding this bridge is a bold statement of intent which secures a vision for the future, where heritage trains can run between Leicester and the south of Nottingham. To see our supportive contractors MPB in action on site is very exciting and we look forward to ‘bridging the gap!’”

A one million pound public appeal to help fund the work exceeded its total when the local community and enthusiasts from across the country rallied to support the scheme. The final cost of rebuilding the bridge over the Midland line will be close to three million pounds, with contributions from the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership and a the purchase of shares in the Great Central Railway by Leicestershire County Council.

A consultants report has shown the revived line will generate economic benefit and create jobs across the area by attracting tourists.

Construction of the new bridge and rail link will also give the southern half of the Great Central access to the national network. In turn this will mean excursion trains can access the planned new Heritage Lottery funded rail museum to be built in Leicester.

View from the A60 road bridge over the Midland Main Line.Andy concluded, “I would like to thank everyone who has supported our appeal or worked hard behind the scenes so this project can proceed. That includes Network Rail, Charnwood Borough Council, Leicestershire and Leicester City Councils and our immediate neighbours next to the bridge Preci Spark. Much midnight oil has been burnt and there is doubtless more to come. Seeing the physical work begin is a rewarding moment and the whole community can be proud.”




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