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Great Central RailwayBridge work begins in earnest!

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.”

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.

Andy Munro discusses the project with the media.

GCR CEO Andy Munro was on site to discuss this week's exciting developments with the media.

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

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.

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.

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