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Bridge that Gap: Great Central Railway News

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Gav106, May 8, 2010.

  1. Flying Phil

    Flying Phil Member

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    Thinking a bit more about the "Gap" project ....30th September 1973 saw the first public run of a steam engine from Loughborough to Quorn.
    What finer culmination of the reunification dream would it be, if the 50th Anniversary in 2023 could see a steam engine going North from Loughborough to Ruddington.
    Obviously this would be a challenge in financial and physical terms.....but what a target to aim for!
    This would be a real stimulus for fundraising and raising the profile of the project....."Forward" the GCR.....
     
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  2. martin1656

    martin1656 Part of the furniture Friend

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    Now that is a very good idea, plus it gives something to aim for, it gives a reason for people to contribute especially if it was a pre booked private train for people who subscribe to fill the gap only and was not open to the public except if there was some empty seats on the day, what was the engine on that first train on 30 September 1973 ? is it still on the line , and most important of all will it bee able to recreate that run, except this time Leicester North to Ruddington.
     
  3. Flying Phil

    Flying Phil Member

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    I think the first train was this.. 2012-12-19_19.JPG

    and Yes, that is me obscuring the engine number!(5231)
     
  4. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 Member

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    I think 2023 as a link up is an extremely ambitious date. That's just 4 years to raise the multiple millions of pounds to reinstate the infrastructure, trackwork and everything else (the income of finances will be the chief limiting factor on how soon this can be done). I've also always thought that surely one of, if not the first loco to cross the gap should be the O4. It would be especially nice if Butler Henderson was put back together so each of the surviving GC locos took the first train over in one direction each (there's some WIBN for you). Failing that it may well be possible to have 5231 visit for the weekend. Doubtless it would be nice for RSH 56 (the first operational loco based at Ruddington) to play her part in the day as well if she were restored.
    There also remains the practical (and political) question of whether the railway would become one uniform line (in which case, how do the 2 lines and companies merge?) or whether it would be ran in a similar way to the F&WHR in Wales where they run as two separate railways except on special events, and share a central station as one end of each of their operations. (Apologies if this has already been discussed on this forum, but I can't be bothered to trawl back through 47 pages to check!!)
     
  5. pmh_74

    pmh_74 Member

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    As far as I can recall (and a cursory look at old newsletters seems to confirm), the first operational [steam] loco at the GCRN was RSH 0-4-0ST 'Castle Donnington No.2'.
    The first steam loco on site (but yet to steam) was Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0ST 'Julia'.

    Anyway talk of what will be first over the bridge* is premature. But when the time comes, 70013 would be some way down the pecking order I think. Although it did run on the GC once or twice as a BR loco, it wasn't a regular. 63601, 6990 and 73156 all have stronger GC pedigree, as does 60103 if you want to bring a main line engine across it from the north.

    [*The real 'first' of course will probably be an 08 shunter. Or maybe a p-way trolley.]
     
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  6. Flying Phil

    Flying Phil Member

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    Hi Ruddingtonrsh56, I totally agree that it is an extremely ambitious date - but that is part of the strategy (as JFK said about the moon programme).
    I know that we (armchair experts?) think things are easier than is actually the case but it is worth remembering that the first "spade in the ground" for the MML bridge was Feb 2016 - only just over 3 years ago. Foundations started in Jan 2017.....since then that bridge has been finished, the Canal bridge is halfway completed and much paperwork and planning has been done for the remainder.
    The embankment section to the North of the MML bridge could have the earth moved quite quickly - it was moved from the paddock in about a week. Because it is higher and closer to the brook, there may be some pilings required along the Eastern base? Then a point on the chord line, ballast and track over the MML bridge, pose steam engine on bridge - excellent publicity and increased project momentum.
    Track over the canal bridge, pose steam engine over canal - excellent publicity and increased project momentum.
    Build arches and abutments over Preci-Spark car park and tip road, lay track, pose steam locomotive on arches, excellent publicity increased project momentum.
    Build the 400m embankment, lay track........... Gap Bridged!
    There may well be later changes to extend the double track along the embankment - both at the South and at the North over the A6 bridge, there will be more alterations to trackwork and signals North of Loughborough station, there may well only be the single track initially past/through the engine shed.......But the Gap will have been filled..... by the end of 2023.
    That is the vision for the 50th Anniversary year.
     
  7. martin1656

    martin1656 Part of the furniture Friend

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    Its this sort of infrastructure project that makes me wish there was a governmental fund that heritage operations could apply to for funding to support such to enable projects like this to happen sooner, other than the lottery fund, which may not even cover such schemes or to fund the costs of say providing access to network metals and signalling requirements to enable a heritage railway to link in to the national network, where it has a benefit for both organisations,
     
  8. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 Member

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    You may well be right about Castle Donnington, I’m certain you’re right about Julia. But I do know 56 hauled the first public passenger services in Easter 1994 which made me fill the gap in my knowledge and assume it had been the first operational steam arrival.
     
  9. MellishR

    MellishR Well-Known Member Friend

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    Have the two railways not already planned how to operate when bridging the gap is completed? If not, that surely is something they should be sorting out now, well before it becomes urgent.
     
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  10. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 Member

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    It may well be that these discussions are ongoing without my knowledge. I’m not a director or senior volunteer after all, only a fireman!
     
  11. Quicksilver2510

    Quicksilver2510 New Member

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    Out of interest, is that an official GCR vision or your vision? Whilst I certainly agree it would be a very good way to celebrate the 50th anniversary year, to my mind it still seems an ambitious time scale! I hadn't seen any official confirmation of that project programme, though based on GCRs ability to complete infrastructure projects and raise funds it certainly doesn't seem an impossibility.

    Joshua
     
  12. Flying Phil

    Flying Phil Member

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    Hi Joshua
    It is purely my vision and, as you say, "it certainly doesn't seem an impossibility"..... Often, having a deadline, does serve to focus minds and promote activity. The four year timescale is just to get a train across the gap - there would be a significant amount of further work to do to get it fully operational.....In my vision.
    It is a project that has excited and enthused many people in this country and world wide, who have contributed already in time and money - having this as a target will, I believe, encourage much more of that support....... from even more people and organisations.
     
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  13. AndyY

    AndyY Member

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    Flying Phil, I think you should be put in charge of this project!
     
  14. mikechant

    mikechant New Member

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    I would imagine that these discussions would be be held as privately as possible until a conclusion is reached, since they are potentially quite sensitive. For example thinking about the likely relative finances of the GCR and the GCR(N), the GCR(N) might feel in danger of being taken over rather than a merger of equals. I emphasise this is just an *example* of why discussions *might* be sensitive, for all I know there will be no merger/takeover, just some sort of mutual operating agreement.

    But I'm sure the last thing either railway wants is any sort of public disagreement since that would (e.g.) potentially affect fundraising and jeopardise the project. Probably the less we know at this stage, the better!
     
  15. nffcneil

    nffcneil New Member

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    I am not too fussed over the motive power on the first service across the gap into Ruddington - just as long it bears a more suitable headboard.
     
  16. Davo

    Davo New Member

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    The only awkward thing with the existing chord line off the G.C.R. North line is main line engines heading north up the midland main line would have to reverse tender 1st if they were facing boiler 1st north on the G.C.R. line going south on the midland main line would be easier if locos on the G.C.R. were facing boiler 1st south but there again the turntable at Quorn would make turning mainline locos easier depending on what the maximum size loco the turntable would take.
     
  17. marshall5

    marshall5 Well-Known Member

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    The turntable at Quorn (ex Steamport, ex York) will turn a Jubilee or similar but not a Pacific.
    Ray.
     
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  18. Dunfanaghy Road

    Dunfanaghy Road New Member

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    Will the bridge across the Midland carry a single line, or is it wide enough to carry two lines gauntletted (interlaced) which would, one day, allow Absolute Block working north of Loughborough?
    Pat
     
  19. Midlandsouthern

    Midlandsouthern New Member

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    It would be great if it was 2023 finish, why not, theres the ambition to make this project happen in first place so why not have the ambition for opening on 50th anniversary. Good progress is being made already so far, so aslong a funds and momentum keeps steady pace which be the big question.
    I would like too think that both ends have an idea of what future operating may look like already, it may not be formal agreement yet but at least the intial outline thats broadly agreeable to both sides.
    Yet too visit gcr (n) and been few years since been too loughborough but follow both regularly
     
  20. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 Member

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    All true. Especially what you say about the fear of the GCRN being taken over, that is something many GCRN volunteers are wary of once the gap is bridged! Relationships between the two railways are reasonably good right now, sadly this wasn't the case 10 years ago and many wounds take time to heal.

    I should also point out that it would not be a good idea to ask volunteers at the railway what will happen as 99.9% won't have a clue and all you will get is multiple different speculatory suggestions as to what will be the case!
     

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