A million pounds has now been raised to fund a further two stages of the Great Central Railway’s ambitious Reunification project.
The money has come from the local community and rail enthusiasts across the country who want to see the two separate halves of the award-winning East Midlands heritage line reconnected.
The two railways were separated after closure in the 1960s. Putting them back together will create an eighteen-mile heritage link across the East Midlands; not only will this be an internationally recognised tourist attraction, but it will sustain and create jobs in the region’s economy.
There are seven phases of work to complete the link.
Two have been completed including a new bridge has to carry trains over the Midland Main Line at Loughborough and the full refurbishment of an existing bridge over a canal.
The money being raised will go towards completing two more – the crossing of a road called Railway Terrace and a factory car park.
Andy Fillingham, Chairman of the Friends of the Great Central Main Line, the membership club supporting the GCR and leading the fundraising for the project said, “Raising one million pounds is an incredible achievement by everyone involved. To everyone who has supported the appeals and got involved, a heartfelt thank you. This is a real people power project, putting back a railway which so many didn’t want to close in the first place.
Meanwhile, Reunification has received an unusual boost from an unlikely source.
The brand-new High Speed 2 rail line is currently being built between London and Birmingham.
The line is due to cross the site of the original Great Central Railway station at Finmere Bridge in Oxfordshire.
During the demolition of the old GCR Station, some masonry has been recovered, including eight handsome bridge coping stones.
The plan is that these coping stones will be used in the course of the construction of the Reunification scheme, giving the new project a real connection to the past.
Andy added: “With the railway reopened after the various lockdowns, we’re getting back to face to face fund-raising, not only at the GCR but around the community too. We’re looking forward to meeting people and bringing them up to date with the latest news on Reunification. It’s the biggest heritage railway project in the UK and has really got people fired up!”
HOW TO DONATE TO THE REUNIFICATION PROJECT
Donations can be made online at www.gcrailway.co.uk/unify
Text UNIFY to 70970 to give £5 Text UNIFY to 70191 to give £10
Cheques for the appeal can be made payable to The David Clarke Railway Trust and posted to DCRT, Lovatt House, 3 Wharncliffe Road, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 1SL