Bridge demolition puts railway project on track


The third phase of a reunification project by the Great Central Railway has begun. Credit: Friends of the Great Central Main Line.

A railway bridge has been demolished as part of an ambitious scheme to create an 18-mile heritage railway and take lorries off the roads at the same time.

The original Great Central Railway bridge over the A60 Nottingham Road, in the northeast corner of the town was 125 years old and clearly showing signs of old age, and has also been struck by lorries many times.

The modern-day Great Central heritage railway, based in Leicestershire, is working on a multi-million pound project to ‘reunify’ two halves of the line separated by British Railways in the 1970s. The bridge over the A60 is key to the project, however, it was beyond economic repair, so the difficult decision was made to remove the old bridge and replace it with a new structure capable of carrying modern freight trains and heritage railway passenger services.

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Work began on Saturday (October 1) in the early hours of the morning, with VolkerLaser as lead contractor. The project has been championed by Friends of the Great Central Main Line, which has also helped co-ordinate raising funds with The David Clarke Railway Trust, the Great Central Railway’s charitable partner.

“This is so exciting for us,” said Andy Fillingham, chairman of the Friends of the Great Central Main Line. “We’ve previously completed two parts of the reunification project and this is the third. Replacing the A60 bridge alone is costing more than £1 million.

“Once again, supporters of the GCR from around the county and country have come together by donating to our reunification appeal, raising hundreds of thousands of pounds. The new bridge will give many years of service and is also going to have a slightly higher road clearance than the original one to hopefully reduce the chance of suffering damage from drivers who forget how tall their vehicles are.”

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The new bridge will be carry two railway tracks. One will take trains to and from the national railway network, which could lead to heavy freight trains using it to access local businesses, removing traffic from the roads and delivering sustainable transport. The other will carry the new connecting lines between the two halves of the Great Central Railway, creating a heritage passenger line in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire promoting sustainable tourism.

The Great Central Railway placed the order in April to beat rapidly rising costs but is still seeking to raise further funds to finish this part of reunification and commit to future phases of the scheme. 

“We know there is going to be some disruption to traffic on the A60 while this work is carried out,” added Andy. “We are sorry about any short-term issues but we expect that the new bridge will be in place within a few weeks.

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“This modern bridge with crash protection built in should mean fewer problems caused by lorries hitting the bridge. We are grateful to everyone who have supported this project with funding, allowing us to make an important investment in the East Midlands.

“We are still looking for a few thousand pounds to finish the job and we hope the inspiring progress might encourage others to donate, even in these difficult economic times. This is part of the project where every pound matters.”

Donations can be made here, where you will also find more information about the project and the work being carried out.

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