The Great Central Railway

The present day Great Central Railway is a unique heritage railway located in the university town of Loughborough in the East Midlands of England between the cities of Leicester and Nottingham.


It is on the route of the old Great Central Railway that linked the cities of Manchester, Sheffield, Nottingham and Leicester with London at its terminus station at Marylebone.


The preserved railway is predominantly steam operated and has a double track section which allows passengers to experience the thrill of trains passing at speed. In this respect it is unique in the preservation world.


But the GCR is more than just a tourist line. Its double track allows for commercial testing of railway vehicles at speeds of up to 75 mph for diesel hauled trains and 60 mph for steam hauled trains.


Able Engineering and the Great Central Railway

Able Engineering has worked with the Great Central Railway ever since our company was formed in 2000. We have worked on many different projects over the years, including the construction of a new station canopy at Leicester North and the complete restoration of Loughborough Central Station, completed in 2013.


Please see the links in the menu at the top left side of this page for details of some of our previous work.




The Great Central Railway's half a million pound renovation project to revive "Loughborough's Crystal Palace" has triumphed at a national award ceremony.


The restoration of the elegant glass, metal and wood station canopy, which is grade II listed and dates back to 1899, took three years to complete. Originally provided to protect Victorian travellers it is now ready for another century of service at the heritage line.


It picked up the first prize at the National Railway Heritage Awards (held on the 4th of December in London) in the station environment category. It faced stiff competition from two projects completed by Network Rail at Battersea Park and Horsham stations.


Tony Sparks who led the project said, "It was a team effort involving people from every part of the railway to make sure the repairs to the canopy were completed to the highest standard. This award is just recognition of the hard work and a tribute to everyone who helped raise the money to do it! We're very proud to have won. A visit to Loughborough Central has been transformed. It is one of the largest stations on any UK heritage railway. We now have facilities which match the expectation of twenty first century travellers and a sparkling elegant roof over our head. Loughborough's Crystal Palace shines again!"


The improvement works at Loughborough also saw passenger facilities refreshed, a lift installed for visitors using wheelchairs installed, cracked paving slabs repaired and a small exhibits museum redesigned.


The National Railway Heritage Awards recognise work to preserve Britain's rail heritage. They encompass buildings, structures and signalling. The Great Central Railway has previously won awards for its signalling and the work carried out by volunteers at Rothley station.


The judges praised the renovations at Loughborough station as "a heritage restoration of the highest order". The work was funded through a major public appeal and also grants from The Wolfson Foundation, The Pilgrim Trust, Biffaward, Garfield Weston and The Edith Murphy Foundation. Hundreds of hours of volunteer time was dedicated to recovering original wood and metal where possible or manufacturing completely new pieces. Specialist contractors and engineers were also employed on the project.