Main Line Xtra

Reunification – Canal Bridge progress

Canal bridge is second stage of massive Great Central Railway project to be completed. 

Two day operation ‘all but’ finishes overhaul of elegant Victorian structure and marks another step forward for eighteen mile heritage line vision.

The east side panel in place and being bolted down. The west side panel lies in the down formation waiting for its turn.

A bridge over the Grand Union canal built in the late 1890s has been overhauled and fully restored to carry trains again as part of an ambitious expansion of the Great Central Railway in Loughborough. During the first week of July two days of work saw the completion of an eighteen month programme of works to refurbish the bridge which last carried a train in 1972. 

The bridge is part of a chain of infrastructure which will help the award winning heritage railway in Leicestershire connect with its counterpart in Nottinghamshire creating an eighteen mile line for steam and vintage diesel trains. Already a brand new bridge has been built over the Midland Main Line at Loughborough. The refurbishment of the canal bridge is the second of seven phases of work. The two halves of the Great Central were once connected but the link was removed by British Railways after the line first closed in 1969.

The Chairman of the Friends of the Great Central Main Line, Andy Fillingham said, “Once again we have to say a very big thank you to everyone who has supported the appeal to reunify the railways, particularly the crossing the canal campaign. It’s an amazing what have all achieved together and shows how people power is getting the two railways reconnected.”

The new ballast retention plates installed on the west (down) side of the bridge to keep the formation in place and stop debris falling onto the beams or into the canal.

Work on the canal bridge was expected to be completed early in the year but was delayed first by winter storms and then the pandemic lockdown. Some minor work remains to be carried out on the Loughborough landmark and a final inspection to ensure it is fit for use. The contractors developed an innovative approach to the repairs which meant work could be carried out with only one closure of the canal which took place in November and December 2019 to avoid disruption to pleasure boats.

Andy continued, “We’re now raising money for the next stage of the Great Central Railway Reunification project. Installing two more bridges that are needed is expected to cost three million pounds. Despite the lockdown and uncertain times supporters from across the East Midlands and further afield have been very generous and we have now raised one hundred and seventy thousand pounds and the total is climbing all the time. We’re delighted to have some good news to share about the canal bridge in these difficult days. We can’t continue to build until we have raised the majority of the money but hope that everything that has happened so far will inspire people to find out more, get involved and donate.”

The moment the east side panel was offered up. The scaffold team on the pontoon will help install the bolts which secure the panel.

The railway has been hosting online talks about Reunification showcasing the work so far. The next is due to take place via Zoom on Sunday July 26th at 7pm.  For a minimum donation of ten pounds, donors will be treated to a fully illustrated seventy five minute presentation which will now be updated with videos of the dramatic canal bridge repairs.

You can find out more about the project and how to donate at www.gcrailway.co.uk/unify

GCR board welcomes new director…

Great Central Railway PLC announces the appointment of The Rt. Honourable, The Baroness Morgan as a director.

Nicky Morgan, now appointed to the GCR PLC board, cutting the first sod as construction began on our bridge across the Midland Main Line .
Photo by Graham Wignall.

The Board of Great Central Railway are delighted to announce the appointment of The Rt. Hon the Baroness Morgan of Cotes (Nicky Morgan) to the GCR Board as a non-executive director.

Baroness Morgan, formerly Loughborough’s Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and now a Member of the House of Lords has already been a strong supporter and friend to the Railway for many years. She will take up the directorship from 1st June.

Commenting on the news, GCR’s Managing Director, Michael Gough said; “I am so very proud that Nicky has accepted this position – she will bring an entire new level of advice and gravitas to our corporate governance. As the Railway grows in popularity and strength, it will be so useful to have her massive experience and knowledge to hand”

Nicky said “I am very excited to be joining the GCR Board. The GCR has a very special place in the hearts of Leicestershire residents and beyond. I’ve worked with and enjoyed the Railway as their MP, as the founding Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heritage Rail and also as an enthusiastic GCR local member for over 15 years now. I look forward to supporting the Railway’s exciting future and working with all GCR employees and volunteers.”

Eric Boulter

We are very sorry to report the passing of Eric Boulter who passed away on Sunday after a long period of illness.

Eric will be fondly remembered for his years of service on the Griddle Car, with his customary shouts of "plates are hot" as he served many a satisfied customer their all-day breakfast.

Eric was a well respected member of the GCR family and will be sorely missed.

We will publish details of Eric's funeral arrangements when these are known.

FoGCML 2020 Calendar

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crossing the Canal appeal reaches £376,000

We're delighted to report that the Crossing the Canal appeal total has now reached £376,000! 

Meanwhile on the bridge itself, work has been continuing inside the protective sheeting which surrounds the scaffolding and the bridge.

The entire top section has been grit blasted and painted in the protective coating as shown in the photograph, and the top flange plate of the east girder has been replaced. The west girder top flange and ballast retention plates are to receive attention in the coming weeks.

With the structure revealed following grit blasting, an inspection has been undertaken to determine the condition of the bridge in greater detail, and a report is being prepared to allow the project to continue to the next stage.

We're very grateful for your tremendous support and look forward to bringing more news soon.

For the latest news on the project, and to donate to the appeal, please visit www.gcrailway.co.uk/unify

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 www.gcrailway.co.uk/unify

 

 

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 www.gcrailway.co.uk/unify

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 www.gcrailway.co.uk/unify

 

 

 

 

Infrastructure improvements works at Rothley

Following the very popular Last Hurrah of the Season event, an opportunity has been taken for some infrastructure improvement works to take place before our Santa services begin.

GCR has been delighted to host a training and experience exercise this week where contractors have completed the "plain lining" of the carriage siding on the Down (west) side of the line. This siding is now disconnected from the main line and will be reconnected as part of improvements to the track layout at Rothley in the future. The vehicles remaining within the siding have been carefully selected as those which are not in the short-term restoration queue and will not require to be moved until after the siding is connected.

A road-rail vehicle in action as part of improvement works at Rothley. Photo: Graham Wignall.

The work is an example of how GCR works with the railway industry to achieve a mutual goals of achieving infrastructure improvements while also providing valuable training for industry professionals.

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All train services are currently suspended until further notice.

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