Steam trains return to Leicestershire village after 50 years

A steam train pulls wagons down the restored branch line. The steam trains were the first to run at Mountsorrel for 50 years
The charity lay the final panels. The final pieces of track were laid in February
Three of the restored wagons. The charity has restored some of the wagons that ran on the original railway

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Steam trains have returned to a Leicestershire village for the first time in 50 years after volunteers raised £100,000 to rebuild the track.

Villagers from Mountsorrel decided to restore the railway in 2007.

The Mountsorrel Railway is a branch line which runs off the Great Central Railway, the UK's only double track, mainline heritage railway.

Two industrial tank engines were demonstrated in Mountsorrel on Saturday.

The Mountsorrel Railway Project, the registered charity behind the restoration, hopes to open the railway to the public in September.

Heritage centre

The group also aims to bring a station and a heritage centre to the village.

It hopes to share in a £3m Heritage Lottery bid by Leicestershire County Council which is currently being compiled.

What is the Great Central Railway?

  • The Great Central Railway was the line that ran from Sheffield to London
  • It was closed to passenger trains in 1966
  • However, sections have been restored
  • In Loughborough, a not-for-profit company reopened a section of the track as a tourist attraction, operating steam and diesel trains
  • The double tracks are also used for testing commercial trains by Network Rail and train manufacturer Bombardier

The charity also hopes to restore a steam locomotive named Elizabeth that used to operate on the railway.

The 2km (1.25 mile) track was restored by the 130 volunteers, who cleared vegetation and repaired the original track foundations.

'Lot of affection'

They raised the £100,000 required for the work from public donations and a £13,000 donation from Mountsorrel Parish Council.

The Mountsorrel quarry donated ballast and the charity bought second-hand track from Network Rail. The volunteers laid the track using restored tools, some of which were 100 years old.

"We surprised a lot of people," said project leader Steve Cramp. "People in the village have a lot of affection for this line."

The railway was originally used to carry granite from the Mountsorrel quarry.

The line gradually fell out of use and the track was removed in 1963.

Mr Cramp said: "All over the UK, coal mines and factories had their own railway systems that fed into the national network.

"One by one, as heavy industry disappeared, all that history went with it. We want to recreate that history."

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