Andrew Morley

80080 arrives for the Winter Steam Gala

Our first guest locomotive has arrived for the Winter Steam Gala!

British Railways Standard Class 4 2-6-4T 80080 arrived at the GCR by road this morning, 18th January 2022. The loco is a member of the highly successful class of which 155 were built, and appears courtesy of The Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust.

80080 stands at Quorn & Woodhouse, shortly after arrival on 18th January 2022.

The "Standard 4" will be joined at the event by another special guest, Battle of Britain Class 34072 "257 Squadron". Both locomotives are due to appear at all three days of the event from 28th to 30th January 2022.

We're looking forward to the event, where an intensive timetable on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th January will feature an exciting mixture of passenger and goods train services, with eight steam locomotives and our Diesel Railcar in action.

On the first day of the event, Friday 28th January, a busy timetable also sees passenger and goods trains, with five locomotives in action.

More details can be found on the event page



Friends of the Great Central Main Line announce exciting fundraising campaign to accelerate railway link up plan!

Loughborough landmark set to be completed this year subject to funding.

2022 will be the year an epic heritage railway project leaps forward. The Great Central Railway has already completed two pieces of its ambitious Reunification scheme and now plans to get a third one fixed by the end of the year.

Reunification will see two separate halves of the GCR reconnected to create an eighteen mile heritage line with economic benefits to Loughborough and the wider East Midlands.

The next job is to overhaul the bridge that carries the railway over the A60 Nottingham Road on the north east side of Loughborough. In a remarkable boost for the project a consortium of funders has brought together a substantial sum of money towards the cost of the work. Now the Friends of the Great Central Main Line is setting out to raise one hundred and ten thousand pounds to ‘top up the pot’.

Fundraising has also been underway for 18 months towards two further sections of the Reunification scheme - a new bridge across ‘Railway Terrace’ road in Loughborough and a short new section of railway to cross a factory car park. These two elements have been dubbed ‘The Factory Flyover’. Money continues to be donated from across the country and around the world and the fundraising work will continue towards this section alongside the new appeal for the A60 bridge. It is hoped work can start on the Factory Flyover within the next two or three years.

Andy Fillingham, Chairman of the Friends of the Great Central Main Line said, “This is an incredible chance to move our Reunification scheme forward quickly. To have so much already committed towards the repair of the A60 bridge is phenomenal and I am sure that will encourage donors to help us reach our one hundred and ten thousand pound target. We launch this appeal today with the aim of finding the funds as soon as we can, so in turn contractors can get to work on the bridge.”

The bridge over the A60 is unique in the Reunification project. It’s the only structure which already has track on it. Not only is it vital to reconnect the two separate sections of the Great Central but it also connects the GCR to the national railway network. However, its 120 years old and often struck by careless lorry drivers whose trucks are too tall to fit underneath it. It’s currently closed to trains and the bridge decks are life expired. A programme of work over the next year will ensure it can be back in business and fit for another century of service.

The bridge is owned by the East Midlands Railway Trust as part of the nine miles of the Great Central Line north of Loughborough.

“We’re delighted fundraising is underway for the A60 road bridge,” says David Rae, Chairman of EMRT, “Overhauling it unlocks the potential of the line towards Nottingham allowing it once again to accept trains from the national rail network. It’s another great step forward towards the creation of the eighteen mile heritage railway across the East Midlands and we’re ready to support the fundraising campaign and the work ahead.”

“Every donation counts and is so welcome,” concluded Andy Fillingham, “Once we have got the funds raised for the A60 bridge and the work is underway we’ll continue the campaign to find the funds for the other parts of the Reunification jigsaw. We’re so humbled by the support we’ve received. Bit by bit, people power is making this project - once described as impossible - actually happen!”




To make a donation to the A60 bridge overhaul fund head to or send a cheque through the post made payable to the ‘David Clarke Railway Trust’, to DCRT, Lovatt House, 3 Wharncliffe Road, Loughborough, LE11 1SL. Please write on the back of the cheque A60 / Reunification.


More information about the A60 bridge and the wider Reunification project can be found at



Winter Steam Gala – 28th to 30th January 2022

GCR receives £515,700 from Culture Recovery Fund

Daily image gallery

Several new images each day while the railway is temporarily sleeping...

We'll be regularly updating our website with a selection of photographs taken on the railway in previous years. Special thanks to the photographers who have kindly provided images for use here.

We hope you enjoy the selection each day.

Reunification Press Release – The next phase




Plans to reconnect the two halves of the Great Central creating a heritage railway spanning the East Midlands are taking a major step forward with the announcement of a new fundraising drive. The Friends of the Great Central Main Line, (the members club which supports the award winning visitor attraction) has set a target of three million pounds to build two more major pieces of infrastructure.

The Great Central Railway running between Loughborough and Leicester is separated from another section of the line (which runs northwards towards Nottingham) by just 500 metres of missing rails, bridges and embankments. These were lost following the closure of the line in the 1960s. The project to rebuild the line is called ‘Reunification’ and will create an eighteen mile heritage railway.

Two pieces of the project have now been completed; a brand new bridge to carry heritage trains over the Midland Main Line at Loughborough and the refurbishment of an existing bridge over the Grand Union canal.

“We’ve already achieved so much to reunify the two halves of the Great Central Railway,” said Andy Fillingham, the Chairman of the Friends of the Great Central Main Line. “Millions of pounds have been raised and spent already on delivering this exciting project. Now we want to build not one, but two further sections which include crossing a factory car park and a road called Railway Terrace.”

The next phase of the fundraising campaign has been dubbed the ‘Factory Flyover’. Two bridge decks which Network Rail had no further use for and were able to generously donate to the Great Central, will be incorporated into the work. Building two pieces of the jigsaw at the same time - rather than separately - is expected to be cheaper overall.

“We have an ambitious target for our new appeal of three million pounds. We’ve already raised that amount of money for previous elements of the project so we know it can be done with everyone’s support,” continued Andy.

The Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership have previously supported reunification with a substantial grant from their Local Growth Fund. Meanwhile hundreds of people from across the country are donating money every month. One hundred thousand pounds is already ‘in the pot’ towards the three million pound target.

While Friends role is to raise the money and promote the scheme, the donations go to the David Clarke Railway Trust which supports the Great Central. Money raised for reunification goes into a ‘ringfenced’ fund meaning it can only be used for that purpose. They have recently announced the 400th donor has signed up to give money every month. This is on top of donors who make a ‘one off’ gift.

“We know so many people from around the world are interested in seeing reunification succeed,” added Andy. “We’re humbled and delighted by the financial support we’re receiving. We truly believe we can succeed and deliver not only a heritage railway for the nation to be proud of but also an economic asset which supports the East Midlands service sector. With momentum building we are not daunted by our new fundraising challenge. Work can only proceed when we have the vast majority of funds available so if you want to see this happen, now is the time to get on board and support the Factory Flyover appeal.” To find out more about the project, see progress updates and to donate on line head to

ADB975397 – Test Car 2

An interesting project is currently taking place at GCR, where an important vehicle used in railway testing is being restored...

Test Car 2 was originally built at Wolverton in 1962 as Mk 1 Brake Second Corridor (BSK) number 35386 as part of Lot 30699 and fitted with Commonwealth bogies.

Class 47 47221 with Test Car 2 during slip/brake testing on the East Coast Main Line north of York on 30th June 1985. Image (c) Dave Bower.

The coach was temporarily adapted for use by the Department of Mechanical & Electrical Engineers (DM&EE) as a test car in 1974, and renumbered ADB975397. This was after the previous Test Car 2, DE320041 was irreparably damaged after a failed slip/brake test. The new Test Car 2 received further modifications in 1976 including changes to the interior layout and installation of a generator.

Between 1974 and 2006 Test Car 2, based at the Railway Technical Centre in Derby was mostly used for Slip/Brake testing of vehicles on the WCML between Crewe & Winsford. On occasions, Slip/Brake testing was also carried out on the ECML north of York, most notably a Mk 3 coach in 1985. Testing was required to verify the braking characteristics of new vehicles and the best way to do this was to slip them and allow them to brake on their own without influence from any other vehicle.

Test Car 2 in Serco livery prior to restoration at Quorn & Woodhouse. Image (c) Dave Bower.

When not in use for Slip/Brake tests, the coach was often seen coupled with Test Car 1 to provide additional braking effort when carrying out vehicle ride testing at higher speeds.

In 1994 an unusually large amount of instrumentation was installed when Test Car 2 was used as the main test coach for the pantograph and traction performance testing of Class 92 locomotives. The Class 92 tests included four days of operations between the Dollands Moor freight yard, through the Channel Tunnel to the Fréthun freight yard near Calais.

When British Rail was privatised, Serco Railtest took over the role of testing vehicles until slip testing paths became difficult to arrange and Test Car 2 was retired to the Old Dalby Test Track in 2011.

In 2016 Test Car 2 was lined up for disposal and saved by a GCR volunteer. It was moved to the GCR and now falls under the care of the Quorn Wagon Group who are currently in the process of restoring the vehicle to its BR testing glory.

Test Car 2 at Quorn with newly applied livery in late June 2019. Image (c) Dave Bower.

With thanks to Matt Baker and Dave Bower for providing the information and images for this article.










Canal Bridge Latest News – 18th January 2019

With the canal bridge parapet repairs underway off site, it won’t be too much longer before work begins on the rest of the structure.

Before it can, it will be encased in a cloak of scaffolding. A site visit this week by our engineers saw detailed measurements taken so the temporary structure can be designed.

We are working with Canal and River Trust to make arrangements for the work to take place in a safe and efficient fashion, with as little disruption to canal users as possible. Further details will be published as soon as they are confirmed.

To achieve the necessary clearances, and protect the workforce, boaters and walkers on the tow path will be quite a challenge.

We are grateful to the Canal and River Trust and would like to thank them for their support.

For the latest news on the project, and to donate, please see



Canal Bridge – Work begins on-site!

We're delighted to report that work has begun on the Canal Bridge at Loughborough in a major step forward for our Bridging the Gap project.

A large crane has been on-site this morning to lift clear the distinctive lattice parapets from the 120 year-old bridge in preparation for these to be restored off-site by a specialist contractor.

A large lorry was skilfully manoeuvred to the site directly behind our Loughborough Locomotive Works, ready to receive the two lattice parapets (each weighing almost 8 tons), which will both be divided into two sections for the journey to Wales for restoration.

We are extremely grateful for the support received from the public, with over £300,000 now raised towards our Crossing the Canal appeal towards the £475,000 total required for this part of the project.

The canal bridge is a crucial stage of our project to link the two halves of the Great Central Railway to create an 18-mile heritage line.

A short distance further north, our new bridge across the Midland Main Line is now completed as the project continues to take strides forward.

For the latest news on this exciting project, please see








Crossing the Canal – Appeal total passes £300,000

We're delighted to report that the Crossing the Canal appeal total has now exceeded the £300,000 mark.

GCR is continuing to work with contractors as the start of works on site approaches, and we will bring further news on the timetable of works as soon as the details are available.

We are very grateful for your tremendous support so far.

For the latest news on the project and to donate, please see





Our next running day

This weekend

One steam locomotive and our Diesel Railcar are in action this weekend 22nd and 23rd January 2022.

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Reunification appeal - Reuniting the two halves of the Great Central Railway
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