Ruddington’s ‘Big Trains’ Could Restart Soon!

For almost three years now, a previously familiar weekend sound drifting across Ruddington has been sadly missing – that of the distant whistles and gentle chugging of steam trains making their way in and out of Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre.

Since published the news piece ‘What’s Happening at our Heritage Railway’, back in January 2022, it’s continued to be one of our most searched for items – as villagers and visitors alike seek the elusive answer! In particular, the legendary ‘Santa Specials’ in the run-up to Christmas have been badly missed during this time.

Whilst other facilities and activities at Ruddington’s popular heritage site off Mere Way returned as soon as was deemed safe to do so post COVID-19, various issues since have prevented full-sized heritage steam or diesel train services from resuming. Certainly further vandalism and the unexpected closure of the line across the condemned rail bridge over the A60 Bridge near Loughborough played their part. However, it seems it was the (rather public) fallout between the site owners East Midlands Railway Trust and train operators Nottingham Heritage Railway which has largely impeded further progress.

Now East Midlands Railway Trust (EMRT) says there’s been a new agreement between the two – with ‘Nottingham Heritage Railway’ again being referred to by its original ‘trading’ name of Great Central Railway (Nottingham) Ltd [GCR(N)] – which is preparing the way for heritage trains to restart from Ruddington.

EMRT has revealed that a change to the ‘Articles of Association’ of GCR(N) Ltd was unanimously approved by shareholders at their Annual General Meeting on January 21st. The vote heralds a ‘new relationship’ between supporting charity East Midlands Railway Trust and GCR(N), with the aim of getting heritage trains ‘running sooner’ and securing the future of nine miles of preserved railway between Ruddington and Loughborough.

It appears the key change removed a clause in the articles which prevented any one party from owning more than 10% of the shares issued in GCR(N). Now, East Midlands Railway Trust, the charity which owns the freehold of the railway, can convert its longstanding loan to GCRN Ltd into share capital to acquire a majority interest in the company. In future GCR(N), as it seeks to reopen the line and run trains, will be the commercial arm of the charity.

Dr David Rae speaking at the Ruddington site in July 2021

EMRT says this change injects working capital into GCR(N) and removes the ‘burden of uncertainty’ caused by the loan. Individuals can also purchase new shares in the company.

Dr David Rae, Chairman of East Midlands Railway Trust, explains: “The Boards of both companies have been working towards this agreement for the past year and we are very relieved to have the support needed from shareholders to conclude it. It means that GCR(N) Ltd can now work with the backing of EMRT to reopen the railway whilst the Trust safeguards the railway line, track and infrastructure.”

The change follows the million pound investment in the line to replace the A60 bridge, renewing the momentum to restart trains and connect with the eight mile Great Central Railway in Leicestershire. The boards of EMRT and GCR(N) are said to be united in this aim. Their initial focus will be running passenger trains again between their base at the Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre some two and a half miles to Rushcliffe Halt station. The two boards will be supported by the LNER (GC) Heritage Trust, the volunteers’ membership organisation which aims to take a more active role.

George Green, director of GCR(N) who chaired this month’s AGM, says: “By working together we can get trains running and secure a long term future for the line, which requires significant investment. I’d like to thank all the shareholders of GCR(N) for supporting the boards proposals and setting us off in a new direction.”

Andy Fillingham, new Chairman of the LNER (GC) Trust and GCRN Ltd Director, adds: “We look forward to working with East Midland Railway Trust and Great Central Railway Nottingham, to drive forward fundraising and recruitment of volunteers both of which are essential for a long term future.”

Once we receive news confirming exactly when GCR(N)’s heritage train services will get ‘back on track’, we’ll let you know here at

The Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre in Ruddington {Photo courtesy of EMRT}

{Top ‘trains’ photo courtesy of Tom Salt}

Related posts