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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. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    I'd also suggest that if the catchment effect were that strong, numbers from the Ruddington end might be considerably higher than they have proven to be.

    A related observation. I live in Grantham, and have been to the GCR many times. In the nearly 18 years I've lived here, I've never visited the Nene Valley - despite it being a shorter and easier drive. Catchment tells you who are within range; you still need to get them to travel.
     
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  2. Musket The Dog

    Musket The Dog New Member

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    Hi all,

    First post from a new member, so I'll try my best not to tread on any toes. I am quite biased to wanting to see the gap project succeed but I was wondering if the GCR or the NHR have detailed any plans on how they would plan to actually plan to use the link in normal weekend running? There seems to be a lot of emphasis on running regular service trains the whole 18 miles but there have been several good arguments made as to why this might not be in the best interest of both parties. Even if when the lines connected if regular service trains only went as far as Loughborough from each end, I don't think that constitutes a failure of the project.

    Day-to-day (or weekend-to-weekend) the GCR still get their mainline connection and passengers from Ruddington get a destination where they can get out and look at something. If the most useful benefit to either side isn't the ability to run trains for the whole 18 miles, does that really make them the villain? The secondary benefits are harder to quantify but I can't think of many disadvantages over the cost of maintaining the new small section between Loughborough GC and the end of the NHR railhead. There might be some boost to the GCRs ability to take on testing or maybe advantages for people using the services of LMS nearby. I'm sure there would be some publicity boost for the NHR as well as hopefully the revenue increase from being able to gain access to or be a part of the GCR's special running days and galas.

    Having a longer run doesn't necessarily make for an engaging railway as much as the places you travel to having offering something to interest the general punters does. The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways have already been mentioned. As well as having a very long journey to offer, they are immaculately maintained, run through spectacular scenery and give the guests something to learn/do while they wait for their train to head home. However even there I think it is quite rare a regular service train runs the whole length of both lines, even with the benefit of only being controlled by one company. There are some technical reasons why it's difficult, loading gauges, gradients on one side of the line and the other but it might also be quite simple in that your average non-enthusiast punter might be quite unwilling to spend several hours in an unconditioned coach in the middle of summer with no wi-fi or anything else to entertain the kids, even with all that those railways have to offer.

    Many thanks,
    Ricky
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2022
  3. Andrew MI

    Andrew MI New Member

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    Hello all

    I’m new to this but have lurked for some time. I have lurked for obvious reasons (I like steam trains) and have no affiliation to any element of the GCR.

    From that perspective I’m surprised at the apparent negativity to the benefits of the gap project which is clearly a very significant undertaking and only part of a long term project.

    Taking a step back from the position today, the two sections (GCR & NHR) were originally preserved with the intention of joining them up and creating what (as far as I am aware in the U.K. and possibly anywhere) would be the sole example of a preserved mainline railway. This is by any account a very long term project and bridging the gap is a major piece in that puzzle. The double track section of GCR is impressive, and there is nothing to say that further double track sections could not be added in future - presumably starting with Rothley to Leicester North, but perhaps also including the NHR.

    As I have said this is a very long term project - it has taken over 50 years to get to where it is today and the possibility of an 18 mile double track railway (save for the gap where I understand there is no realistic prospect of that being anything other than single track) may take another 50 years or longer. You might query why it is happening now (as opposed to resource being invested in double track to Leicester, or constructing a terminal at Leicester or Ruddington or dealing with the NCR permanent way) but these things happen when they happen.

    In the timescales to complete the GCR preservation vision many things change - populations grow, personalities in management changes and I anticipate the present issues will likely be forgotten.

    There are many questions to answer about the commercial sense of a much longer railway and there will need to be resolved in time but there can be little doubt that the objective of the gap and the “greater great central” is to pursue the dream from the late ‘60s, and there is nothing wrong with that - if it comes off it will be a remarkable attraction for future generations to enjoy and I expect the political and commercial questions will have a positive end.
     
  4. Flying Phil

    Flying Phil Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to our two new posters - they both bring a welcome positivity and make very good points.
    Incidentally the main driver for the Gap project happening now, was that the Midland Main Line was to be electrified (again) around 2017 and so the MML bridge - if it was to happen with a reasonable cost, had to be done quickly. That happened with NR support - even though the electrification was paused, stopped, restarted and now is happening.
     
  5. Great Western

    Great Western Member

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    Granted railway preservation is a generational term project, what GCR have now has taken 50 years, bridging the gap may well take another 10.

    It’s well known heritage railways are facing and living with very real shortage of volunteers, especially ones with skills which can be easily transferred to the sector.

    Money also a serious concern, you only have to flick through the various sector magazines let alone individual websites to see the fund raising campaigns run into hundreds of millions of pounds.

    The generation of people who have £10, £50, £100 a month or even those sums to donate in a one off are rapidly dying to be blunt. I’m 39, I’ve a good income, and a secure job but I’ve three kids all of whom are off to uni over the next few years I’ve no money to donate, nor time to help out.

    Id suggest I’m the next generation who have at least (I hope) 30 years of potential volunteering hours in me, but I’m neither interested in donating or volunteering for any organisation who don’t:

    Have a clear public vision for their future (GCR wise, the real reason for the link).

    Conduct internal polities behind closed doors, and resolve them quickly and fully (WSR issues going on for decades).

    Don’t have grands plans for large depots, museums, grand terminus etc (GCR & GCRN).

    Don’t publicly slate a sister organisation (GCR and GCRN).

    Basically the whole railway heritage sector unfortunately.
     
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  6. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Both generational and never completely finished!

    Plese accept my aplogies for the liberty in editing your OP to fit.

    Regarding the rest, not quite all. From what I can see (as a sometime GW outpost) the commendably well run Corris seems to make a point of leaving all those 'wrong boxes' listed firmly unticked. ;)
     
  7. pmh_74

    pmh_74 Well-Known Member

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    There are some valid points in the rest of your post, but I can’t believe anyone is still seriously contemplating two separate but connecting services terminating at Loughborough. If you stop to think about it for a moment, Loughborough Central will need the north end completely remodelling and resignalling to allow passenger trains to and from the north, and very probably (hopefully) the loco shed moving as well. All of this is on the GCR’s patch; why would they sink loads of time and money into this for the almost exclusive benefit of the NHR?

    Furthermore, the physical infrastructure has been and is being funded by public donation and I think it would be quite morally wrong to use that money for the almost exclusive use of a handful of main line loco groups and the commercial activities of one of the partners in the project.

    Also, if you visit Loughborough on a typical ‘normal weekend’ day you will find the dining train occupying one of the platforms for all but a couple of hours in the afternoon. The other platform is rarely empty for long as it is reversing the rest of the services; at certain times of day the arriving train is sitting at the home signal waiting for a platform once the other departs. There is realistically no way that an NHR service could be slotted into that mix if it has to run round as well, the only way to do it is to join the two services together (accepting that there may still be some Leicester-Loughborough reversals due to capacity on the single line northwards).

    Longer term, I would anticipate a number of current GCR volunteers migrating northwards as future projects look to increase capacity where it is needed to further integrate the services. If it takes a while for the commercial bits of the various organisations to catch up with that reality, so be it.

    From a personal perspective as a member of both for 30+ years, I will be very happy when one of those memberships becomes superfluous.


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  8. Flying Phil

    Flying Phil Well-Known Member

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    pmh is quite correct in his assessment, which is essentially that the timetable will be a combination of the existing arrangements ie the North is limited by its single track so services from the South can follow that pattern, whilst running more services along the double track to the South. Obviously the dining train - for convenience is usually in platform 1, but for gala events, both Loughborough platforms are used quite intensively.
    Obviously, as the North gets busier, then a passing loop at East Leake? and more comprehensive signalling will increase the capacity of the North.
    I, and I'm sure many others, are really looking forward to being able to travel both North and South from Loughborough!
     
  9. Andrew MI

    Andrew MI New Member

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    What sort of space is (or might become) available for additional sidings in and around Loughborough when the northern throat of the station becomes running lines and the shed is replaced?

    I assume the gap is double track over the canal bridge and at some point on the to be constructed embankment it becomes single track, but might there be provision for double track even if it is used as a siding for some period of time (despite the additional expense of creating a larger embankment)?

    That might create the capacity to facilitate Ruddington - Loughborough return and Leicester-Loughborough return services in addition to through running between Ruddington and Leicester.

    I assume there is a lot of scope for creating passing loops on the northern section such as East Leake / Rushcliffe Halt - even if the long term aspiration is to double track the entire route…
     
  10. Musket The Dog

    Musket The Dog New Member

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    Thanks for replying to my post PMH, some very good points raised. I can't pretend to know exactly what the plans are but my thoughts were shaped by the fact that the North and South are set up to run very different intensities of service. The other greater challenge I can see from an operations point of view currently is the need to reverse the whole train at Ruddington. Currently the NHR are set up for this, only having the one coaching set with the lookout at one end but how do you fit the regular GCR service trains into that? Create more lookout coaches to serve all the trains provided by the GCR? Find time in the timetable to fit an additional 2 run arounds into every journey? Have another loco stationed at Ruddington, just to draw the train in and out? Build an additional platform at the spur and put everyone on a DMU shuttle? I think I've read that there might be a long term plan to put in a chord to the South, but how far in the future is this? Granted the Gap won't be bridged tomorrow, but the NHR have a lot of other infrastructure projects on the burner too. In my mind it would make more sense to find another location to service the dining train while it isn't in use rather than say that is what will restrict the usage of Loughborough's platforms indefinitely.

    I don't really see it as being that different to any other business. At work I use some of the budget for my workshop to help fund projects in other departments. I might not get use out of it every day but the investment is worth it long term for the value of the occasional benefit. How much benefit do the GCR get from taking on the passenger train and signaling responsibilities for the Mountsorrel branch? Services certainly don't run every weekend, but it must be enough to warrant them shouldering that burden. On the surface it might look like the NHR using the GCR's track for free but in the simplest terms you're bringing those passengers to the GCR. Whatever they do while they're in Loughborough waiting to go back helps the GCR.

    I think the moral side of it will mean different things to different people. When I donated, I was just under the impression that it was to fill the missing link between the two lines and eventually I would be able to get on a train from the GCR and go North to Ruddington. If I had to change at Loughborough or the opportunity was only available a few times a year, I don't think I would feel like I had been betrayed by either party. The website certainly doesn't set out what the operating circumstances will be once it's opened. Maybe that's something that could be improved if there is actually a plan in place.

    Many thanks,
    Ricky
     
  11. Flying Phil

    Flying Phil Well-Known Member

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    I suspect that the chord line is very high up on the agenda for the development of the North - after the bridge repairs! Of course it must be remembered that there is a strong HST group at Ruddington, that will give an easy option for reversing at the top end, having run through from Leicester North....:).
     
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  12. Musket The Dog

    Musket The Dog New Member

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    If you'd had told a young me stood watching HSTs on Leicester station that one day I'd be excited by the prospect of riding one on a preserved line I would have said you were lying ;) A HST passing a restored O4 on the windcutters, on the restored double track. Now that would be something unique...
     
  13. Sheff

    Sheff Resident of Nat Pres

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    Yes I had that thought too - HST passing various steam legends ….


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  14. Paul Grant

    Paul Grant Member

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    Sounds like a photo opportunity a BR sector would use on a brochure full of marketing speak!
     
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  15. J Rob't Harrison

    J Rob't Harrison New Member

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    I'm struggling to think of anywhere else where ultimately you'll be able to experience a century of passenger travel in one day. Ruddington- Loughborough behind 567 in a restored GCR carriage. Loughborough- Leicester and return behind (say) Thornbury Castle in a Mark 1. Loughborough - Ruddington on a HST set. That really will be a USP.
     
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  16. Penrhynfan

    Penrhynfan New Member

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    Similarly the Bala Lake Railway, of course.
     
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  17. Flying Phil

    Flying Phil Well-Known Member

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    This post made me think again about the various, well documented, aspects of the Gap/Shed proposals. Initially the intention was to have a single track around the West side of the existing shed. With the shed, life expired and a new shed needed, there have been several options considered re location, this has been also strongly influenced by the operational flexibility provided by double track as far North from Lbro station as possible to prevent congestion there snarling up the station and whole line on busy gala days.
    This double track cannot go around the West of the existing shed due to the tight "S " bend to get it aligned with the canal bridge.......but there is no easy way to relocate the shed as the adjacent land owner, after much negotiation has decided to do nothing (reported at the GCR AGM).
    However, as AndrewMI implies, could there be room to have effectively a long siding on the new embankment extending over the canal bridge, which has been double track refurbished. There could be an additional siding on the West side of the area North of the shed where the sleeping coaches are presently kept should extra space be required.
    True there would then only be a length of single track past the shed, but there is only a single track further North anyway at the MML bridge.
    This possible way forward would be the cheapest option in terms of track and signalling whilst retaining the provision of double track should the shed be able to be moved sometime in the distant future, the present shed could be refurbished, in situ, to extend its life, again minimising cost and disruption.
     
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  18. J Rob't Harrison

    J Rob't Harrison New Member

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    The last I heard about the shed was that a new one would be built to the east side of the alignment, where there used to be a siding, and that the running lines would be where the shed currently is. Did that plan rely upon the purchase of land adjacent to the Railway?
     
  19. Flying Phil

    Flying Phil Well-Known Member

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    Hi J Rob't
    The proposed land purchase for the shed was on the West side - Jacksons Coachworks, this is industrial land and was originally railway land I believe - goods yard??. The land to the East now has housing on it.
     
  20. Andrew MI

    Andrew MI New Member

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    The AGM video from July 2021 states that the adjacent land owner is the Jackson coachworks (to the west) and they don’t want to make any decisions on sale due to Covid uncertainty within the timescale the GCR needs to make its decision.

    If there will always be a short single track section over the MML there will be a long single track section for some time yet (even if the rest of the gap and what is the NHR is eventually double tracked) so the temporary solution proposed by FlyingPhil makes sense to keep options open whilst decisions can be made about where other loco sheds might be located - such as Ruddington.
     
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