After three years of planning and fundraising, work has officially started on a new bridge in Loughborough to carry the tracks of the Great Central Railway (GCR) over the Midland Main Line. The new bridge is part of a chain of infrastructure which will ultimately allow the two halves of the Great Central Railway (GCR in Leicester and GCRN in Nottingham) to reconnect, creating an 18 mile heritage line between Leicester and Ruddington.
The project to rebuild the missing link between the two halves of the Great Central Railway has become known as ‘bridging the gap’. The ‘gap’ came about when the original Great Central line closed in the 1960s and structures were removed by British Railways.
The new bridge is just over 30m long and will carry a single track of the GCR over four tracks of the main line between Derby and London St Pancras. The first phase of works on site will involve clearing vegetation and constructing a site compound. Planning permission for the bridge, which will cross the railway below in a ‘single span,’ was obtained in 2014.
‘This moment marks the first page of a whole new chapter in the story of both the GCR & GCRN and for everyone who has been involved in reunification project over the years’, said Phil Stanway, Director at GRCN. ‘To finally see something that for years was nothing more than a vision, finally becoming a reality is testament to everyone who has helped in any way, however large or small by donating money, time or expertise to get us to where we are today.’
The completed railway could be open within five years, to tie in with the new Heritage Lottery funded railway museum being developed at the southern terminus at Leicester North. You can find out more about the project and keep up with the latest news at www.gcrn.co.uk.