Great Central Railway to celebrate 50 years in operation

 Tuesday, May 23, 2023 

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A heritage railway is due to celebrate 50 years of operation by running a 50-wagon freight train.

The Great Central Railway (GCR), based between Loughborough and Leicester, will mark the milestone on the weekend of 17 and 18 June.

The group is planning a gala weekend featuring heritage locomotives.

Malcolm Holmes, general manager, said: “We plan to showcase the best of our team’s hard work with a great weekend of railway theatre.”

‘Emotional’


The weekend will include a run-out of the largest locomotive on the line – a member of the powerful 9F class which dates from the 1950s – pulling a train made up of 50 wagons, something the GCR has never attempted before.

Steam and diesel locomotives will also be in action, hauling passenger trains.

There will also be heritage vehicles to view and tours of Loughborough’s locomotive shed.

Mr Holmes added: “As well as frequent trains there will be a lot to see off the rails, too, at our wonderful stations.

“For some of our team who have worked hard since those very first trains in 1973, it’s sure to be emotional.”

The former Great Central Railway was closed in 1969 by British Rail.

Efforts to reopen the line began immediately with a band of volunteers campaigning to get access to the line.

In 1973, the first trains ran only two miles (3.2km) between Loughborough and Quorn and Woodhouse station.

Since then, the operation has grown with trains running to Rothley station and then a new platform at Leicester North.

A second line was laid to create a double-track railway with heritage signalling.

The railway is now operated as a not-for-profit PLC.

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