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Great Central Railway (Nottingham)


RCD’s Overview

The Great Central Railway (Nottingham) (‘GCRN’) operates a transport centre and a heritage railway based at Ruddington, five miles south of Nottingham. The trackbed of the railway extends nearly 10 miles from Ruddington (50 Steps Bridge) to a point close to the former junction with the Midland main line at Loughborough, the freehold of which is owned by East Midlands Railway Trust (‘EMRT’). Formerly distinct organisations, in early 2023 changes were implemented to facilitate a majority shareholding by EMRT in GCRN which has facilitated significant capitalisation of GCRN. The extent of services on the heritage line had been curtailed to operate over only 3 miles from its base at Ruddington to Rushcliffe Halt, as poor condition of the line further south prevented continuing traffic. It is hoped that the recent changes will facilitate the re-introduction of heritage railway services from Ruddington to Rushcliffe Halt and beyond as soon as possible, as well as freight services which had until recently operated over a significant part the line. There are realistic plans to link with the heritage line with its larger neighbour at Loughborough to create an 18-mile railway.

The transport centre at the Ruddington site is also home to a miniature railway, a model railway, and a regular display of a collection of historic buses.


Happening This Month: March 2023

  • No trains this month

Key Facts (where and when)

Extent of Railway (where to where):

In the recent past, trains have run from Ruddington Fields station to Rushcliffe Halt

Principal Visitor Centre:

Ruddington Fields Station (NG11 6JS)

Period of Operation*

- From Easter to September (Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays)

- School holidays (selected Saturdays also)

 [* This is a summary. Please go to the railway’s website for definitive operating days] 


Key Facts (what you’ll see)

Services usually steam or diesel?

Predominantly diesel locomotives

Type of Steam / Diesel Locomotives Used:

Ex- British Rail diesel locomotives/Occasional visiting steam

Length of Line:

3 miles in recent operation (10 miles in ownership of EMRT)

Number of Stations:

2 stations


Not currently advertised                                                                    

Time to allow for Visit:

1 to 2 hours


Yes, the Transport Museum at Ruddington Fields station site



Picnic/Play areas:


Preservation Established:


Car Park Facilities:

At Ruddington Fields station


Key Facts (Galas/Events/Dining)

Dining Trains:

- None currently advertised                                                                               

Event Trains:

- None currently advertised                                                           

Principal Galas:

- Bank Holiday Specials

- Autumn Diesel Event: September

- Anything Goes Event: October




Telephone:                                                           0115 9405705


Social Media:                                              

                                                                                Also on Twitter


Brief History of the Railway and its Preservation  

When the section of the Great Central Railway between Nottingham, Leicester and Rugby closed in 1969, a section between Loughborough and Ruddington (5 miles south of Nottingham) remained open to serve Ruddington Ministry of Defence depot and also gypsum traffic to East Leake. When the MoD depot at Ruddington was closed, just over 2.5 miles of track from Ruddington to East Leake became available, and it was thought the whole section to Loughborough may become available if British Gypsum ceased to use its East Leake facility. The GCR Northern Development Association was formed with the aim of reconnecting the then two GCR sections of railway once again. Nottinghamshire County Council stepped in and bought the entire MoD site with the intent of creating a Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre to encompass all forms of local transport including railways. The Council then agreed to lease 12 acres of the site to the GCR Northern Development Association for re-creation of a railway site. The freight operation from Loughborough Jct to East Leake in fact continued, however following privatisation Network Rail became willing to sell the line provided that continuing freight use to East Leake would be facilitated by it. The freehold of the line was ultimately sold to EMRT subject to these conditions, and railway operation rights were granted to GCRN. In recent times concerns as to the condition of railway infrastructure, under the maintenance obligations of the GCRN, had curtailed its operations to about 3 miles of railway from Ruddington Fields to Rushcliffe Halt. Organisational changes between EMRT and GCRN implemented in early 2023 were designed in part to improve such infrastructure and to facilitate the re-instatement of former heritage and freight operations over the railway.


Principal Aspiration

To extend regular operations over the full extent of the railway, and ultimately to ‘bridge the gap’ and link with the Great Central Railway PLC at Loughborough.



Recent changes at this railway have included a substantial reduction of motive power located at its premises.

As of Spring 2023, the following are reported as staying on the railway:

(1) BR Class 20 - D 8154

(2) BR Class 37 - 37009

(3) HST 43 044

In 2022 the following had been reported as pesent:


Diesel Operational Locomotives:

(1) BR Class 20 - D 8154

(2) BR Class 47 - 47292

(3) BR Class 47 – 47828 (on hire)

(4) BR Class 08 - 13180

(5) BR Class 08 - 08110

(6) Pacer DMU Class 144 - 144003


Steam Locomotives Under Overhaul:

(1) Manning Wardle - No 1762 0-6-0ST ‘Dolobran’

(2) USATC Class S160 - No 70284

(3) Manning Wardle - No 2009 ‘Rhyl’

(4) Hudswell Clarke - No 1682 ’Julia’


Diesel Locomotives/DMU Under Overhaul:

BR Class 31 - D5830


Stored/ Under Restoration/ Out of Service:

- Stanier 8F - 8274

- Manning Wardle - 2015 0-6-0 ‘Arthur’

- BR Class 37 - 37009

- BR Class 46 - 46010

- BR Class 03 - D2118

- Heritage DMU Class 108

- Heritage DMU Class 116



Name of Support Group:

LNER (GC) Heritage Trust

Annual membership fee:

Adult: £20. Senior: £18 Junior £10. Family: £35


Benefits of membership:                                  

-          Privilege travel fares on heritage steam and diesel trains (exceptions apply)

-          Special preferential travel fares at Gala Events

-          Entitlement to join as a working volunteer

-          Magazine, 'Driving Wheels', including news, photos and updates


How to Join:                                                      Go to


What They Say About Volunteering:

The scope of our railway operations is significant. As might be imagined, running real trains requires a dedicated team of individuals. Our volunteer activities range from teams who maintain our track and structures, through to those that signal our trains as well as those that restore, maintain and operate our locomotives and rolling stock. Whatever your skill level, there is something for you here! We undertake training and mentoring for volunteers to ensure safety for both our teams and the visiting public. Many of the drivers, guards, signallers and track maintainers have day-jobs and have learnt their skills with us.


How to Volunteer:                                               Go to


How to Donate:                                                    Go to and scroll down to the ‘Donate’ button.


WHY JOIN:  Help the railway extend to East Leake, and also ‘bridge the gap’ to Loughborough.


Those interested in this railway may also be interested in the following railway societies also listed on this



Traditional Railway Societies:

- Great Central Railway Society

- Leicester Railway Society


Model Railway Clubs:

- Nottingham Model Railway Society

- Bingham Model Railway Club 


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