Friends of the Great Central Main Line have announced an exciting fundraising campaign to accelerate the linking of the Great Central Railway (GCR) in Loughborough with the National Heritage Railway (formerly known as GCRN) at Ruddington.
GCR has already completed two pieces of its ambitious Reunification scheme and now plans to get a third one – a landmark bridge over the A60 – completed this year, subject to funding. Reunification will see two separate halves of the GCR reconnected to create an 18 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 are setting out to raise £110,000 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 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’s hoped work can start on the Factory Flyover within the next two or three years.
Andy Fillingham, Chairman of the Friends, 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 £110,000 target. We’re launching this appeal 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, it’s 120 years old and is often struck by 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 works over the next year will make sure it can be back in business and fit for another century of service.
The bridge is owned by the East Midlands Railway Trust (EMRT) 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 18 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!”
How to donate
To make a donation to the A60 bridge overhaul fund, please visit www.gcrailway.co.uk/unify.
Or, send a cheque through the post made payable to “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 www.gcrailway.co.uk/unify.