Heritage line could boost economy by £65m

Train on Great Central Railway

Plans to extend the Great Central Railway could boost Charnwood’s economy by up to £65 million per year, it has been revealed.

Leicestershire County Council is proposing to support the GCR’s major expansion plans, by buying one million shares for £250,000. This would be funded from reserves set aside for economic growth.

Council leader Nick Rushton said: “Heritage railways make a massive contribution to tourism and the Great Central’s expansion plans could mean a major boost for the county.

“That’s why I’m keen that the county council shows its support and helps the GCR to expand the local economy.”

At the moment, the Leicester-Loughborough section of the Great Central Railway attracts 130,000 visitors per year, delivering economic benefits of £6 million per year to Charnwood.

The GCR is now working on two major improvements:

• An £8 million project to rebuild an embankment and a bridge over the Midland Main Line at Loughborough, to join up with the Great Central Railway North – enabling trains to run from Leicester North to Ruddington, near Nottingham, from 2019

• An £18 million project to develop a railway museum, featuring exhibits from the national collection, at Leicester North

Once these developments are complete, it is predicted that the economic benefits could rise to between £30 million and £65 million per year and could create between 486 and 966 jobs, through additional local spending and opportunities to regenerate east Loughborough as a heritage quarter.

Tourism is a priority sector for the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership, which is working to create 10,000 jobs and attract 35 million visitors by 2020. Loughborough is also identified as an economic growth area.
Charnwood Borough Council and Leicester City Council already have shares in the GCR.

The council’s ruling cabinet will discuss the report when it meets at 2pm on Friday, 17 June. You can view it on www.leicestershire.gov.uk/webcast , live or as a recording.