GCR Bridge Project

Flying Phil

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Glad to see you back Phil. I hope you've had a good break and are ready to continue your reporting:D
Thanks fflint - it was a good relax in the Majorcan sunshine:D.
It is good to see that there are now, fairly frequent, "Gap" video updates on the Great Central website and the latest one shows more detail of the re-bar work inside the pre-cast segments. They are taken from "on -site" whereas my pics are from the public areas.
As the whole project will take 2 - 5(?) years I expect that the first train across this bridge will probably come from the North as there will only be the short section of embankment and track to build from the existing running line?
 
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Flying Phil

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As can be seen in today's photographs, the concrete has been poured into the North abutment base, it has set and the next layer will soon be put on top. On the South abutment concrete is still being poured.


 

Roast Veg

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As the whole project will take 2 - 5(?) years I expect that the first train across this bridge will probably come from the North as there will only be the short section of embankment and track to build from the existing running line?
Not to mention that if any of the construction materials are ever delivered by rail it will be from the north, as it has the NR connection.
 

fflint

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Thanks again for your report and pictures Phil. Is it really true that the project will be taking 2-5 years ? I know it's a quite big job for a presevation society but they've got the money from supporters etc haven't they? Isn't most of the work is being done by contractors?
 

Flying Phil

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Hi fflint
Well - as I understand it, the money raised so far has been all spent on the MML bridge. This is expensive and has to be fully NR compliant with official contractors etc. Then the canal bridge needs a total refurb and I believe the contractors will also be doing that.
After that the ex Reading bridge decks and two pre-cast concrete arches go in South of the MML bridge to cross the Precis spark car park and road to the council tip. Then there is about 400m of embankment.......
Meanwhile the track work and signalling North of Loughborough station needs major alteration. Two tracks need laying around the shed and along the new embankment and one track over the MML to join to the existing line -oh and that road bridge also needs a refurb..... So I think 2 years would be the fastest, if lots of money became available very quickly and realistically, 5 years is far more likely, given all the factors.
Also remember that the Museum being built at Leicester North is a multi-million pound project, which will be done at the same time ie. now, with the Lottery timescale.
 

fflint

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Thanks Phil for the information. It's not as easy as I thought,.Now I see why it could take 2-5yrs to complete.
 

Flying Phil

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As you say Duffield more likely to be 4 -5 years to finish.....but we are always optimistic in railway preservation!
More progress on the bridge site as both the North and South abutments have the third level of cast concrete outer sections in place, ready for concrete to be poured later this week. Then there is only the top layer of sections (these are on site). These are due to be put in place next week. Then the top is prepared with steel beams, ready for the deck to be put in place........4 to 6 weeks time?


 

Flying Phil

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Yesterday I was able to have another visit this week and the reinforcing steel work has been completed in both abutments and on the North site the concrete pump lorry is ready for the ready mix concrete to arrive.




This third picture shows the height of the works compared to a passing train.



According to "Steam Railway"" magazine, the bridge deck is to be lifted in place during an overnight possession in September.
 

mushroomchow

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This is all very exciting.

I'm a volunteer on the GCR myself (I won't say where or in what capacity! ;) ) and the thought of the reunification being this close is making me as giddy as a child. I was lucky enough to work when Tornado ran its inaugural service, and this will no doubt be even better.

I'm particularly hoping that the proposed High Level halt goes ahead, so I can commute to and from my "workplace" by train without a fairly long walk from Loughborough Midland station, though I'm aware the simplified track layout may make it trickier to achieve. Things seem to have gone quiet on that front, so if anybody knows whether or not this is still a plan I'd appreciate any info!

All being said, spare a thought for those of us working the first gala after the full route is opened to traffic. You just know they'll be mad enough to do something like getting Tornado and Scotsman both up for it, since the mainline connection will finally make the latter visiting a possibility.

Winter (Gala) is coming. :)
 

Flying Phil

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Thanks mushroomchow - it would be good to get a bit more detail as to future plans from the GCR - but it is quite a long way off and no doubt is subject to funding/other bodies/Council etc etc....
Still this thread has now had over 50,000 views so that must mean it is very popular with 50 people or lots more pop in and out!...??
 

Cowley

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Thanks for the updates Phil and others. Looking good.
I hadn't heard of a High Level Halt plan, is that a possibility? It's an excellent idea.
 

Flying Phil

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I know that in one of the proposals for the Gap Project there was a "High Level halt" on the embankment North of the bridge which would make access from the MML station very easy....but then there is the disabled access requirement, ticketing, unwanted access etc so I don't know if it is still being considered.
Meanwhile the top layer of blocks have been positioned on the South abutment and a big crane is doing the same on the North abutment. Re-bars go in next and then concrete.
I am given to understand that, in two weekends time, the 40 ton steel beams are due to be lifted in place on top of the abutments on Sat night, when there is a possession on the MML. The actual bridge beams are due to be on site around the end of Aug and another Sat night possession at the beginning of Sept will see them craned into place. Another Sat night possession will see the track bed beam installed later in the month.


 

mushroomchow

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I know that in one of the proposals for the Gap Project there was a "High Level halt" on the embankment North of the bridge which would make access from the MML station very easy....but then there is the disabled access requirement, ticketing, unwanted access etc so I don't know if it is still being considered.
The Mountsorrel Branch dealt with the disabled access requirement well, with the zig-zag ramp access down the embankment to the station site (see below picture). I imagine a similar approach would be used to access the site, which I think was supposed to be between the Cotes Road and MML bridges - in fact concept art shows access ramps in situ. There's enough land at the foot of the embankment for a small amount of parking and perhaps a simple ticket office if they need to provide staff assistance, though I think hopes of platform buildings beyond a simple waiting shelter may be over-optimistic given the narrow nature of the bank they're constructing.



As for ticketing, I imagine it would work on the same basis as other unmanned halts on heritage lines - buy on the train, flag down trains, etc. If they do want to man it, great - I'd love to sit in the ticket office watching the MML between trains all day! :D

I think the main issue would now be space. The original track design took the station into account back when it was still planned to be a double-track bridge, but I'm unsure of how it would fit into the simplified alignment without needing to be built further north on the line, which would reduce the convenience of being adjacent to the MML. The bridge abutments have a longer approach, too. The net result of all this is that the feasible length of the platform, which was short to begin with (see below concept art) would probably now have to be even shorter to accommodate approach signals for the mainline connection points.



This being said, a simple halt on a single track line may remove these complexities - the above art references a proposed southern terminal for the GCRN which fell by the wayside with the reunification project. The space issues referred to the installation of a run-round loop, which is no longer needed with the gap bridged as trains will be able to do so at Loughborough Central.

Finally, regarding unwanted access and vandalism, I'm hopeful that the station's fairly inaccessible location would deter would-be trespassers. Loughborough Central has gotten off fairly lightly in the past, and it's in the middle of one of Loughborough's dodgier areas. A CCTV presence might be enough to keep it secure. The only real sticking point would be a direct access to the Network Rail station, given it's a station with ticket barriers (they never work, but they're installed nonetheless!)

This is all conjecture, of course. I imagine that upon reunification, building a terminus at 50 Steps Junction and reopening East Leake will be the first priorities in any case.
 
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Flying Phil

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As an aside I am not just taking photographs at the GCR - I also usually have a train ride and buy a Great Central Breakfast. I am also doing some cosmetic preservation on the Windcutter "B" rake. these are presently in Quorn station yard when I got to Quorn yesterday I found that three wagons have been split from the rake.


So I set to with my trusty tin of BR grey and 4" paint brush!



 

Cowley

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Good work Phil. Now you need to go at them with a scraper and a pot of rust creator... :)
 

pmh_74

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Phil, drop me a PM if you fancy correcting the running numbers while you're at it (two of those are wrong, can't read the third on your photo). Good work by the way.
 

Flying Phil

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yup... they need weathering...
Thanks Cowley and tj!
In fact we did discuss weathering the Windcutters way back when we first started restoring them (Also putting a false high floor and "Filling" with coal!) but decided that there was enough to do just to keep them running - and time would do the weathering!
pmh - PM sent.

Anyway - Re the bridge, I will be away at the beginning of September, so it would be great if other viewers could post up progress pics again.
 

mushroomchow

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I'd be keen to help out on restoring the Windcutters, Flying Phil. Never done any restoration of rolling stock but keen to learn, even if it's just being let loose with a tin of paint like yourself yesterday. Drop me a PM when you get a chance. :)

I may take a trip down to Loughborough to take some pics of my own in your absence, though time is a valuable commodity these days for me so I can make no guarantees! I don't profess to know a thing about the engineering side of it either, so my commentary will be more along the lines of "look, the abutment is higher than in Phil's last picture!" than anything more technical :lol: :roll:
 
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XDM

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Flying Phil- thanks for your excellent work on several topics! But no need to rust those windcutters, they look great as they are. They are railway treasure.
 

Mogulb

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GCR website update recently. The south abutment final lift is being concreted today and the northern one tomorrow. A lot to do before the bridge can go in but a great milestone.
 

Flying Phil

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GCR website update recently. The south abutment final lift is being concreted today and the northern one tomorrow. A lot to do before the bridge can go in but a great milestone.
Thanks Mogulb - also in the GCR video clip is a view of a part of the actual bridge deck under construction in Peterborough!
 

fflint

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Hi Phil, Is there a bridge in place to take the railway over the canal I've seen on the google map. If there is, is the bridge Ok or will it have to be replaced?
Thanks again for your reports.
 

Flying Phil

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Hi Phil, Is there a bridge in place to take the railway over the canal I've seen on the google map. If there is, is the bridge Ok or will it have to be replaced?
Thanks again for your reports.
Hi fflint, as mogulb has said the canal bridge is still in situ and is shown on page 1 post #9. It is two, single track, parallel spans. It has a fair bit of rust but relatively (!) easily lifted and repaired.
 

L+Y

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Thanks again for all you do to keep us updated, Phil- this thread is fast becoming every bit as invaluable as the unofficial Bluebell extension blog was a few years ago.
 

Flying Phil

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Thanks L+Y
The bridge site was quiet today as the concreting work on the abutments is now complete and they are awaiting the steel beams to top them off. On the North site there was a digger clearing a watercourse(?) and several pallets of blue facing bricks have now been delivered.


 

Rob F

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Hi fflint, as mogulb has said the canal bridge is still in situ and is shown on page 1 post #9. It is two, single track, parallel spans. It has a fair bit of rust but relatively (!) easily lifted and repaired.
I think it is actually a single, double track span.

Rob
 

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