The Great Central Railway is planning to push ahead with constructing the next stages of its extraordinary Reunification Project towards the end of 2023.
Thousands of visitors to the award-winning heritage line’s Winter Gala were among the first to learn of the plan. Reunification is a project to reconnect two halves of the former Great Central Main Line to London, which was closed in the 1960s. When complete, it will create an 18-mile line stretching between South Nottingham and Leicester for use by visitors, passengers and rail industry businesses.
Three phases of the seven-phase project – the largest undertaken on any UK heritage railway – are now ready for track to be laid on them. These include a new bridge to carry GCR heritage trains over the national rail network, a refurbished late 1890s bridge over a canal and, as of November 2022, the replacement bridge over the A60 road. It represents an investment of many £millions into the area.
An ongoing fundraising campaign means there is now more than £1.4 million pounds ready to spend on the next phase of the work, which has been called The Factory Flyover. Subject to successfully securing the relevant permissions, work could begin on-site later this year.
Andy Fillingham, Chairman of the Friends of the Great Central Main Line, who’ve promoted Reunification said: “This project is all about people power and pushing forward a plan with potential to transform the local area. It’s been humbling how much support we’ve received, not just at home, but around the world. Times are tight but people are still choosing to support the inspirational Reunification scheme. We’re very grateful to everyone.”
The Factory Flyover is actually two stages of the project combined: a bridge across a factory car park and another to cross Railway Terrace Road in Loughborough. It’s expected to cost around £2.8 million. Once work has started, it will continue as far as available funds allow.
In March 2023, there’ll be a major fundraising drive where every pound donated to the scheme will be matched by another from a donor up to the value of £150,000. ‘Money Match March’ has been successfully run before, but this is the biggest match pot offered to date.
“We want to get building again as soon as possible rather than just having money in a bank account fighting inflation, so we’ve decided to do just that,” continued Andy. “However, we need to raise more money to complete the Factory Flyover. ‘Money Match March’ has always been popular with supporters as it’s a chance for their donation to go even further.
“Every pound matters. If we successfully match all the money, our totaliser will leap up to an incredible £1.8 million. The more people give, the further we can go with the Factory Flyover.”
Reunification followers can keep up to date at www.gcrailway.co.uk/unify or via the GCR’s official YouTube channel, which features the work that’s happened so far.