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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Great Central Railway reveals new design for next phase of ‘reunification’ project

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The Great Central Railway is preparing to submit a planning application for it’s ambitious Reunification scheme. A new image has been released of the urban viaduct section, which will carry the line linking the two separate halves of the Great Central Railway back together.

The project will create an eighteen-mile heritage line stretching from the north of Leicester to the south of Nottingham, centred on Loughborough.

General Manager of the Great Central Railway Malcolm Holmes said, “We’ll be submitting our planning application in a matter of weeks, so we want to tell people about our plans. The new image shows a train running on the proposed viaduct. Originally we had expected to build an embankment around 300 metres long but the space we have available would have made that quite complex. Our new plan needs 100 metres of embankment, then 200 metres of viaduct. It should be slightly cheaper and simpler to construct.”

This section of railway will also include two steel bridge spans, one to carry the railway across a culvert, the other to take it over Railway Terrace road in Loughborough. The full designs will be included in the planning application along with the necessary reports.

Malcolm continued, “After we have submitted our planning application we’ll need to spend around half a million pounds taking the design documents and turning them into construction and engineering blueprints. Those documents are essential – as is planning consent – before we can build again. While we have £2 million already raised for the project, we want to protect as much of that fund as possible for actual building work. Our new appeal for half a million pounds is to fund the vital next steps and get this epic project ‘shovel ready.’ The more money we raise, the sooner we can build again and the more we can achieve.”

Originally opened in 1899, the Great Central was a fast Victorian Main Line to London. It was closed in the 1960s by British Railways. Two sections have survived but five hundred metres of track between them was also removed.

Restoring the missing section has been underway since 2017. One new bridge has been built, one replaced and a third completely refurbished. Supported by local, national and international well wishers, millions of pounds have been raised to fund the work.

The Great Central has also confirmed the two bridge decks secured for the scheme in 2012 are no longer needed.

“The bridge decks were kindly donated by Network Rail when they were removed from Reading station. They were absolutely instrumental in getting the whole Reunification project started,” concluded Malcolm.

“However with our design changes they would require expensive modification to fit with our plans so with regret we have decided they will be disposed of in due course. Instead the two steel bridge spans required for the Reunification line are more than likely to be brand new structures.”

Image credit: Great Central Railway/Andy Hayward

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