Leicester

Great Central Railway link appeal raises £100,000

Map of where the bridge will go
Image caption Linking the two sections will see two bridges and a section of embankment rebuilt

An appeal to link two East Midlands heritage rail lines has raised £100,000 in just two weeks.

Two sections of the old Great Central Railway are separated by 1,640ft (500m) of missing track at Loughborough.

Earlier this month Network Rail agreed to rebuild a crucial bridge but only if £1m could be raised towards the full £8m cost.

Enthusiasts said it was a testament to the importance of the project that so much had been donated so quickly.

Currently the north section of heritage line runs for 10 miles (16km) between Ruddington, near Nottingham, and Loughborough and is operated by the Great Central Railway group.

Image caption The Great Central Railway was closed in 1966 but two sections have been painstakingly restored

The south 8 mile (13km) section runs between Loughborough and Leicester and is in the hands of not-for-profit company Great Central Railway.

'Humbled and flattered'

The new bridge would cross the Midland Main Line and could be build as early as 2015.

The publicity director of the Great Central Railway Nottingham, Alan Kemp, said: "We are humbled and flattered to reach £100,000 so quickly.

"To be 10% of the way to the total in two weeks is incredible. Support has come from right across the heritage railway fraternity and beyond.

"On behalf of everyone at the GCR and GCRN, I would like to say a heartfelt thank you."

Nigel Harris, of Great Central Railway Development, said: "This is the heritage railway world's next big infrastructure project and it is already capturing the imagination.

"Donations and standing orders are coming in faster than we've ever experienced, but we can't be complacent. There is a long way to go to reach £1m."

The Great Central Railway is the UK's only double track, mainline heritage railway and is also used for commercial testing by Network Rail and train manufacturer Bombardier.

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