Construction starts on Great Central bridge over Midland Main Line
The development of an eighteen mile heritage railway across the East Midlands is on track as contractors prepare to build a key bridge. The 30 metre structure will one day carry Great Central Railway trains over the Midland Main Line and should be in place by early Autumn this year.
Contractors are now preparing the ground for the construction work. Work will then move off site as metal is cut and prefabricated sections of concrete are prepared . The bridge itself will be dramatically craned into place over the Midland Main Line in late Summer 2017.
After the closure of the original Great Central line by British Rail in 1969, a section of the route survived in the East Midlands. However, when 2 bridges and an embankment were removed it was physically divided into two. Both separate lines have been preserved by enthusiasts for heritage trains. They have committed to link up but five hundred metres of track between them needs to be rebuilt. The new bridge is the first key piece of infrastructure to be reinstated.
Andy Munro, the Chief Executive of the Great Central Railway said, “Our supporters have waited a long time to see the Victorian link between the two lines restored. Rebuilding this bridge is a bold statement of intent which secures a vision for the future, where heritage trains can run between Leicester and the south of Nottingham. To see our supportive contractors MPB in action on site is very exciting and we look forward to ‘bridging the gap!’”
A one million pound public appeal to help fund the work exceeded its total when the local community and enthusiasts from across the country rallied to support the scheme. The final cost of rebuilding the bridge over the Midland line will be close to three million pounds, with contributions from the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership and a the purchase of shares in the Great Central Railway by Leicestershire County Council.
A consultants report has shown the revived line will generate economic benefit and create jobs across the area by attracting tourists.
Construction of the new bridge and rail link will also give the southern half of the Great Central access to the national network. In turn this will mean excursion trains can access the planned new Heritage Lottery funded rail museum to be built in Leicester.
Andy concluded, “I would like to thank everyone who has supported our appeal or worked hard behind the scenes so this project can proceed. That includes Network Rail, Charnwood Borough Council, Leicestershire and Leicester City Councils and our immediate neighbours next to the bridge Preci Spark. Much midnight oil has been burnt and there is doubtless more to come. Seeing the physical work begin is a rewarding moment and the whole community can be proud.”