Great Central Railway main site
Great Central Reunification Factory Flyover - Loughborough Factory Flyover - Great Central Reunification
Factory Flyover
Latest news
Crossing the Canal
Bridge restoration
Midland Main Line
Our new bridge
About the
Reunification project
Back to GCR main site...

Great Central Reunification.

Money Match March!
1st March 2021

We've new plans to share with you for phases three and four of Reunification - the Factory Flyover. Civil Engineering consultants Cass Hayward have revised the plans for this section of Reunification and we can share them with you.

While one of the reclaimed Reading bridge decks will still be used to cross Railway Terrace road, the remainder of the new sixty metres of formation are expected to be created using pre stressed concrete bridge beams and decks. Cass Hayward believe this approach will be more economic, simpler to build and in the long term simpler to maintain.

We're now using these plans to obtain detailed cost estimates and continue our discussion with Charnwood Borough Council as we work towards a planning application.

Exciting enough but we've even more good news.

Our fundraising has now passed the half a million pounds mark, towards our estimated three million pound cost for these next two phases. Thank you so much for your support. However you have donated, it all counts and means we are really building momentum.

As you know, we need to wait until we have most of the money in place before engaging contractors. But here's a way of superheating our fundraising to get us building again even sooner. It's the return of Money Match March.

During March, every pound you give, either on line, by existing or newly established standing order, or by cheque through the post will be matched pound for pound, up to one hundred thousand pounds by a donor. What a great way to start the year! If Money Match March is fully subscribed we'll have another two hundred thousand pounds in the pot. Please help us seize this opportunity. Whatever you give, can be matched. Give five pounds and it becomes ten. Give ten and it becomes twenty. Make your gift go further and we'll be getting closer to building and through trains between Leicester North and Ruddington.

Download our Money Match March brochure here which you can use to make a one off donation or set up a standing order.

We're really hopeful you'll chose to set up a standing order donation. A small amount of just £12 a month can really make a difference over a year. With enough of us giving like that we'll build up the fund all the sooner.

Or make an online donation here.

Thank you for your support. It really counts and will help us move forward with Reunification.

Reunification appeal film
Posted on 1st March 2021

Here's our latest film about our Reunification project, with the latest information on this exciting appeal...

February 2021 update
Posted on 10th February 2021

With grateful thanks for all your support the funds available for building phase three and four continue to climb. Coming on the 1st of March we'll have some major news about the fundraising total so far and plans for the future of the Reunification project and a remixed project film to enjoy!

In the meantime our focus remains on fundraising and after the very successful talk about the locomotive Boscastle, as they say, it's time for something completely different...

Honey There's A Railway In The Garden! - An online talk
Posted on 10th February 2021

What happens when a grown man tries to fulfil a childhood dream of building his own miniature railway in the garden?

Follow the trials, tribulations and finally triumphs of broadcaster and GCR Friends supporter Tom Ingall as he completes a lockdown project decades in the dreaming.

From building a locomotive from the Planet kit made by specialist supplier Maxitrak, to digging the turf and laying the track. This brand new fully illustrated sixty minute talk will show the process from start to finish and the lessons learned along the way. For absolute beginners by an absolute beginner, Tom will show his working out in a hope of extra credit - and point you to some of the helpful guides around if you're planning something similar!

The talk will take place on Zoom on Sunday 7th of March. The meeting will begin at 7pm with the talk starting at 7.15pm. We ask for a £10 minimum donation for the talk with all proceeds going to the GCR REUNIFICATION APPEAL.

You'll need the ZOOM application downloaded on to your PC or MAC or tablet. It's free - wherever you get your software from. After donating, you'll be emailed the zoom meeting number and passcode around midday on the 7th of March.

Thank you for your support and we hope you'll join us for something a little bit different!

Posted on 4th December 2020

'The ideal Christmas present' say fundraisers.

There were pre-Christmas celebrations at the Great Central Railway when a fifty thousand pound grant arrived for the line's ambitious Reunification project.

The generous grant came from a charitable trust based in the Midlands. It will support the award winning Leicestershire line's scheme to connect with the national railway network - and reunify with another preserved part of the Great Central to create an eighteen mile heritage railway.

Building the railway link requires new bridges and the rebuilding of an embankment. Already millions of pounds have been raised and spent delivering two phases of the project. Fundraising is now underway for the third and fourth phase which have an estimated cost of three million pounds.

Andy Fillingham, Chairman of the Friends of the Great Central Main Line - the membership club of the Great Central Railway leading the fundraising effort said "At the start of December we had raised three hundred and seventy five thousand pounds towards the appeal total. This latest phase of our Reunification appeal began in March, so to have already reached more than ten percent of the funding required is extraordinary. Then we were amazed to receive this kind and generous grant. After a year which has curtailed a lot of our planned fundraising work, this is a most welcome Christmas gift which has surprised us all!"

A brand new book detailing the progress so far on the Reunification project has sold hundreds of copies already, including to America and Australia. Showing just how much interest there is in completing the link up donations continue to arrive from around the world, boosting the amount raised even further. Connecting the Great Central Railway to the national railway network will bring economic benefits to the line and the wider East Midlands economy.

"We want to carry on building as soon as we can," continued Andy "but we must have most of the money in place for the next two phases before we can appoint contractors. However we have been able to commission consultant engineers to help design the rest of the scheme for us. They're already at work and we hope to have more news early in 2021. Meanwhile we can't thank the people who have given us this grant enough. It gives the whole scheme a tremendous boost and takes us another step towards completing the vision."

To order the Reunification book for £10 (plus £2.50 postage and packaging) please email

December News Update!
Posted on 4th December 2020

We're really pleased to be able to say our fundraising has continued at a great pace. We've reached £375,000!

Your donations are making such a difference as we move towards the estimated total of £3,000,000 for the next two phases of Reunification.

As this year has shown life can move quickly. Not only does Reunification unlock an eighteen mile railway just as importantly for the Great Central Railway in the south it allows access to the Midland Main Line, opening up the possibility of incoming charter trains, more frequently visiting large locomotives and easy access for companies who want to test vehicles and train staff. All of those bring a more secure future for the railway, all the better to withstand tough economic shocks like the one that has been thrown at us this year.

We want to say a heartfelt thank you for being part of the journey with us. It really is making a difference.

In the meantime, if you need to sort a Christmas present out, allow us to recommend our Reunification book which is selling really well. Full of colour pictures, telling the story of everything completed so far - at just £10 (plus £2.50 postage and packing) it's an ideal stocking filler! It even includes a foreword by Sir Peter Hendy, the Chairman of Network Rail. The books production has been sponsored by the Friends of the Great Central Main Line so every penny goes to the appeal.

Email to order.

October News Update!
Posted on 4th October 2020

Great news on the appeal front! We have now raised £320,000 in hand towards the next two phases of the Reunification project, thanks to your unstinting support.

That means we've crossed another fundraising milestone - we have more than ten percent of the estimated costs of building phases three and four in place. While we have commissioned consulting engineers to help guide us towards spades going back into the ground, we will not build until we have the majority of the funds in place.

Having come so far we thought the time was write to look back and celebrate what we've done. Broadcaster, journalist and long time GCR supporter Tom Ingall has written a book chronicling our story so far. It's sixty pages, full of previously unpublished colour photographs and untold stories from the project. Production has been sponsored by the Friends of the Great Central Main Line so every penny from the £10 cost goes to pushing Reunification forward! Needless to say it is an ideal Christmas present. Order them now via email to

We've called the book 'volume one' and if we sell enough we can be writing volume two all the sooner!

We'd like to thank you for your continued generous belief in the project. New donations arrive all the time and following the recent appeals in Main Line magazine, Heritage Railway, Steam Railway and Railway Magazine, new standing orders are being set up too. The funds available climb all the time. Every time a new standing order donation is established, the pace of the project picks up. The more of us giving a small amount of every month, the sooner we'll build not just the 'Factory Flyover' phases but the rest of the project too.

Don't forget, you can see our physical progress by watching our YouTube films, search GCROFFICIAL on YouTube to subscribe.

Reunificaction appeal tops a quarter of a million!
Posted on 7th September 2020

We've got great news to share. The appeal for phases three and four of the Reunification project has now raised a quarter of a million pounds. What a milestone! Thank you very much for your support.

Work on the canal bridge has all but drawn to a close with contractors laying water proof coverings on the decks and completing repairs to the brick work.

"Seeing the completely refurbished canal bridge has given us all a huge psychological boost" said Andy Fillingham, chairman of the Friends of the Great Central Main Line who are leading the fundraising effort. "It seems to have had a similar effect on everyone.

The recent magazine articles and appeal leaflets in the national press have brought in brand new donations and new supporters giving by standing order. On behalf of everyone at the GCR, we can't thank you enough. It all takes us ever closer to constructing the next phases and ultimately to trains running on an eighteen mile heritage line.

Phases three and four, which involve crossing a road and a car park will be constructed together to save costs. It's estimated three million pounds will be needed to complete them. The money raised by the appeal so far will be used to complete planning work and obtain permissions so construction crews can begin immediately when the fundraising target is reached. We'll have more news about the progress of this work as soon as possible.

To support the appeal and make a donation online here.

To download a standing order form and set up a regular monthly donation click here.

Just £12 a month - or £3 a week can make all the difference with enough of us taking part.

Canal Bridge parapets return!
Posted on 6th July 2020

This isn't strictly Factory Flyover news but we know you'll be pleased to hear it anyway. In a two day operation at the start of July, the two elegant side panels of the canal bridge were first lifted and then bolted into place.

The two side panels with their distinctive criss cross metal work were the first pieces of the bridge to be removed when repairs to the bridge began in December 2018.

They were taken off site to the Welsh workshop of our contractors Centregreat Engineering. They have been shot blasted, repaired and repainted. The actual criss cross elements themselves required relatively little work, the main repairs being carried out to the bottom flange where the panels attach to the bridge beams themselves.

Each panel was brought back to site in two halves and then bolted together into a single piece weighing six tons. Once lifted upright and moved into place the crane then held them while they were bolted onto the east and west side beams. A team worked from the top - and from underneath using a pontoon and scaffold tower on the canal.

The coping stones were put into place on the restored brickwork and a temporary scaffold brace installed on each side panel. This will be removed in due course.

While the bridge appears all but complete, there are some finishing off works including adding the waterproof layer to the top side of both decks. There is also a small amount of painting to do, plus the small matter of all the paperwork, so it can be signed off for use.

Overall though, the impression is of a wonderful GCR bridge restored to 'as built' appearance. Constructed in the late 1890s, it last carried a train above the water in 1972. One day it will carry heritage trains again and is sure to be a much photographed location. Want to help us keep building? Every donation you give us helps on the way. We need to raise three million pounds to build the factory flyover section. Thank you for your support. Together we'll reunify the two railways.

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

The second picture shows 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.

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

New update video published....
Posted on 6th July 2020

Great news and a major step forward for Reunification. The work to the canal bridge is almost complete.

The original GCR structure hasn't seen a train since 1972 but has now been fully overhauled ready to play its part in relinking the two halves of the Great Central Railway.

In early July the elegant metal lattice sides were lifted into place, 20 months after they were removed at the very start of works.

Fundraising is continuing for the Reunification programme which will create an eighteen mile heritage railway. Two bits are now finished and hundreds of thousands of pounds have been raised for the next section. Join the adventure. Just by watching our films you're helping to raise money. If you want to donate, please consider a small monthly standing order.

If you'd like to donate, please see the details below. You may be interested in an online talk later in July which gives more details on the project. Please see the details below.

Thank you for your support.

Our exciting project appeal...
Posted on 24th June 2020

Welcome to readers of Steam Railway, Heritage Railway and Railway magazine. Whether this is your first visit to the Reunification mini-site, or if we're a regular stopping off point for you, we hope you'll find plenty of interest as the biggest project in railway preservation moves 'Forward!''.

Our latest total is one hundred and seventy thousand pounds, towards a latest target of three million pounds to build the factory flyover section. Bringing the two halves of the GCR back together will guarantee a home for large locomotives, operating heritage trains with heritage infrastructure right in the heart of the country.

Thank you for all your support. Every donation helps. You can make a single donation by downloading and completing this form. You can give online here. What we'd really like is a commitment to a small monthly standing order gift. Give as little as twelve pounds a month and it adds up to a significant donation over a year. To set up a regular donation, please fill in this standing order form, send it to us and we'll do the rest.

If everyone who read the magazines each month joined the campaign, we could fund Reunification in a year! Thank you for all of your support.

You are making this happen!

Reunification with Rail Riders.
Posted on 4th June 2020

Remember Rail Riders, the British Railways loyalty club for kids back in the 1980s?

Well it's been reformed with hundreds of former members rejoining the 'happiest club in the land'.

The first edition of the new club magazine carries a full colour feature about our Reunification project, so we'd like to say a huge thank you to the new team at the club for helping to spread the word.

Factory Flyover - Latest news
12th May 2020

Appeal reaches £150,000.

The latest phase of the Great Central Railway's Reunification appeal has reached one hundred and fifty thousand pounds. The award winning Leicestershire heritage line is raising millions of pounds to re-connect with its sister railway in Nottinghamshire and create an eighteen mile route across the East Midlands.

The chairman of The Friends of The Great Central Main Line Andy Fillingham explained, "Our Reunification project is one of the biggest schemes on any heritage railway in the UK. We've already raised millions of pounds towards it which delivered one brand new bridge and paid for another to be fully overhauled. In early March we set out to fundraise for the next stage which will see another two new bridges built. It's going to cost around three million pounds. We began with one hundred thousand pounds and thanks to the incredible generosity of supporters around the country we've reached one hundred and fifty thousand pounds."

The project - particularly the construction of the brand new bridge - has captured the imagination the world over and drawn plenty of support from local stakeholders.

Andy continued, "We're living in difficult and extraordinary times. Even though we can't meet our supporters face to face we're doing our best to keep in touch on social media, including premiering a brand new film all about the Reunification project on YouTube. We're deeply humbled that our friends are still supporting the appeal even when priorities are changing on a daily basis. We're determined to remain on the front foot and look to the future. As soon as we have the majority of funds for the next phase of the project to hand, we'll resume construction."

How can I help?
If you'd like to help we would ask you to consider donating by standing order. A small gift every week (say £3 - the price of a coffee) adds up to £12 a month. Over a year that's a very special contribution.

You can download a standing order form here. Fill it in and post it back and the David Clarke Railway Trust will do the rest. (The trust are managing the finances for Reunification).

You can also give online using a credit card or debit card here, or you can make a one off donation cheque through the post, using this form.

Factory Flyover - New promotional film.
30th March

Fresh out of the works is our new Reunification promotional film.

To be honest we'd hoped to share this with you in person at our programme of talks and events - we had planned a UK tour in 2020!

At some point it will get shown on the wonderful Friends of the Great Central Main Line stand which is often seen at GCR galas. We'll also reschedule all our talks. One day we'll be back in person - but until then you can watch the film now!

We'd like to thank everyone who has donated so far. Even if difficult times you are clearly thinking about the future. One plea from the appeal team; we can't easily get to the post box or the bank at the moment. If you have donated by cheque in the post please bear with us while we process your donation and write a thank you letter. For the same reasons it might take a little while to get standing orders running too. We appreciate your generosity, patience and understanding.

If you're considering donating, (or if you'd like to pass some time!) now is a good time to read the new booklet that went out with Main Line and fill in the forms. We can also accept donations online if you're staying inside.

Once again thank you. You're thinking of us and we're thinking of you.

Until we can meet again face to face, enjoy the new film and stay safe.

Changing times...
19th March

We'd like to thank everyone who has contributed so far to the next phase of the Reunification appeal. These are very difficult and uncertain times. It's heartening to know we're in your minds even as ordinary life is turned upside down as we've had new standing order commitments and one off donations both through the post and online.

When we planned the appeal launch many months ago we were also preparing to deliver a number of talks for societies across the country - and of course we were hoping to see you in person at the GCR gala events. Naturally, we've stood down all activity for now and we look forward to getting back on the road again when we can.

In the meantime, a special thank you to the Burton Railway Society. We had hoped to be there in person at their recent AGM to collect a donation of £650, which they had raised during this year for Reunification. While the event was postponed, they've still been able to make the very generous donation. We're very grateful.

For now, stay safe and again, thank you for your support.

Factory Flyover.

1st March 2020.

We've now finished two sections of the Reunification project, creating an eighteen mile heritage railway across the East Midlands. If you're new to the idea, find out more about the ambitious scheme here.

The next piece of the jigsaw is the section across a factory car park. It's right next to the new bridge over the Midland Main Line bridge we've already built.

Factory Flyover - the next phase of Reunification If our fundraising goes well, we'll build the bridge over Railway Terrace road at the same time - it will save on construction costs to do both together. It's about fifty metres of new railway in total but a vital part of connecting the two halves of the Great Central Railway. We hope to incorporate the two bridge decks recovered from Reading into this phase.

Far from being impossible, Reunification is a developing reality.

Make a donation online...This section will cost approximately three million pounds; roughly the amount we have already raised and spent on Reunification. The good news is, as we begin fundraising for this Factory Flyover section (as we're calling it) we already have one hundred thousand pounds in the kitty! That's because many generous people like you are still contributing every month towards Reunification. If you are giving to the Bridge to the Future or Crossing the Canal campaign your standing order will now go towards the Factory Flyover.

If you'd like to help you can give online using a credit card or debit card here, or you can make a one off donation cheque through the post, using this form.

However we'd really urge you to consider donating by standing order. A small gift every week (say £3 - the price of a coffee) adds up to £12 a month. Over a year that's a very special contribution.

You can download a standing order form here. Fill it in and post it back and the David Clarke Railway Trust will do the rest. (The trust are managing the finances for Reunification).

Any donation you give takes us closer to the day the first train runs along the full length of the railway. We can't start building the next section until we have the vast majority of the finance in place. If you want to see this happen, now is a great time to get on board. Thank you.

Don't forget to bookmark this page for updates to fundraising and to subscribe to our YouTube channel GCROfficial where we post videos of our progress.

Donate to the Reunification appeal

Great Central Railway
© 2020 Great Central Railway