Key step forward for ambitious Great Central Railway Reunification scheme
The railway landscape in Loughborough has changed again as a new railway bridge has been lowered into place over the A60 Nottingham Road. It’s part of a project to reconnect two separate halves of the Great Central Railway, creating an 18-mile heritage line anchored in the town that will run right through to Ruddington.
A crane capable of lifting 500 tons lifted the two new 80-ton bridge decks into place over the weekend of the 19th and 20th of November. The structure replaces a previous bridge built in the late 1890s, which was beyond economic repair.
The new bridge will carry two railway lines. One is already in place to link the northern half of the Great Central Railway to the national rail network. The second will be laid in the final stage of work to bring the two halves of the Great Central together.
“We promised 2022 would be the year of the A60 bridge and we’re really proud to have delivered!” said Andy Fillingham, chairman of the Friends of the Great Central Main Line, the group which has championed the project.
“It’s only happened, though, because so many people responded to our fundraising appeal. Working together, we’ve now got three parts of the Reunification project in place. We’re so grateful to everyone who shares our passion for this transformational project. You’ve helped us build up quite a head of steam!”
The Reunification project involves seven phases of work. The replacement of the A60 bridge joins another new built bridge over the national rail network and a refurbished canal bridge on the list of elements that are now ‘ticked off’. Meanwhile, more than £1m has already been raised for two future phases.
With comparatively low headroom by modern standards, the old bridge was sometimes hit by careless drivers in vehicles too tall to fit underneath. An innovative design means the new bridge has an extra three inches of headroom without lowering the road or raising the railway (neither of which was a practical option).
During the lifting operation two crash protection beams were put in place. Each weighs 20 tons, is filled with concrete, and will protect the bridge from being struck in future.
“We hope to have more news in early 2023 about how Reunification will continue,” added Andy Fillingham. “We’re seeing donations arrive from all over the world as well as the East Midlands.
“When completed, the 18-mile railway will serve the local area, creating jobs and promoting sustainable tourism. Every time we take a step forward, it’s so exciting for everyone involved. We’d like to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ for all the support.”
The Great Central Railway has a YouTube channel featuring films of the work to the A60 bridge in progress and providing more information about Reunification.
All donations received are directed towards the Great Central Railway’s official supporting charity, the David Clarke Railway Trust, which holds a dedicated fund for the Reunification project.
To make a donation, please text UNIFY to 70970 or donate online at www.gcrailway.co.uk/unify.