There are stations at Ruddington Fields (within the Heritage Centre), and at Rushcliffe Halt; However the GCR(N) aims to reopen the former station at East Leake in the future, and there are plans to build a high-level (interchange) station at Loughborough, (as there's currently no platform here).
The railway is currently not connected to Great Central Railway (at Loughborough Central in Leicestershire), although there are plans to reunite the two preserved lines, this is a major engineering project that is expected to be completed in 2015. The line is used by gypsum trains to British Gypsum's gypsum works at East Leake.
At the same time as the Leicester extension, the Ministry of Defence depot at Ruddington closed, and the four miles of track from East Leake to Ruddington were no longer needed by BR. It was also clear that British Gypsum were unlikely to bring in any more materials by rail. The GCR Northern Development Association was formed. Work initially concentrated on restoring Rushcliffe Halt, however when Rushcliffe Borough Council agreed to lease part of the former MOD site to the association, the grand scheme of the Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre was devised to encompass not only railway preservation, but any transport heritage relevant to the area.
In the 1990s, work on what had become the Great Central Railway (Nottingham) Ltd was concentrated mainly at Ruddington. The transfer of BR into Railtrack and then Network Rail hindered attempts to purchase the line. Ironically, it was British Gypsum's intentions to renew rail freight traffic that formed the catalyst that allowed the GCR(N) to buy the line and restore it initially for freight use.
At East Leake station, houses were built on the former goods yard in the 1980s, and some were built only yards from the remaining track. The disused nature of the line combined with a solicitor's error led the new occupants to believe that the line was closed (BR never listed the line as closed and could have resumed operations at any time). However, when the GCR(N) applied for a Transport and Works Act 1992 Order to purchase and operate the line, objections from local residents resulted in a permanent speed restriction of 5 mph through East Leake and the station remaining closed.
For Network Rail to route freight trains onto the line during the week and GCR(N) to operate heritage trains at the weekend, a length of rail north of East Leake was removed to create two separate railways. With this 'rail break' the GCR(N) were unable to access Rushcliffe Halt. A more convenient solution was found in the form of a clip on double-sided wheel scotch padlocked to the line at the site of the rail break. At weekends, the GCR(N) phone Network Rail to take possession of the line. Network Rail then lock the line out of use from their end and allow the GCR(N) to unlock the rail break and access the track to Loughborough.
In 2003 regular services to Rushcliffe Halt resumed. Passenger trains further south now run on a regular basis to the site of a proposed Loughborough High Level station.
Ruddington Fields is the main station on the line, and the home of the GC Railway Nottingham. It features a road transport building, locomotive sheds, signal box, miniature and model railways, cafe, visitor centre, toilets and car park. The Rushcliffe Country park surrounds the GCRN facilities here. In 2009 the new platform was opened. There is talk of a possible extension from Ruddington towards the River Trent on the outskirts of Nottingham called Nottingham Greenwood, this would expand to a total of 24 miles in length.
9389 is pushed past Asher Lane crossing by 56
The gated Asher Lane Crossing is on a private road which was formerly the MOD depot perimeter road. It is a short walk from the country park to the crossing, where it is possible to see trains passing and the crossing keeper at work. There was a set of Sidings here called Asher Lane Sidings, since removed.
Fifty Steps Bridge is the end of the spur from Ruddington Fields, where trains reverse for the onward journey to Loughborough. The bridge itself originally had "Fifty Steps" but subsequent modifications have increased that number. The former Ruddington station is further north, the trackbed now being owned by the supporting Charity (East Midlands Railway Trust), to support eventual extension of services.
The Gotham branchline was a short freight branch connected to the Great Central Mainline via Gotham Sidings; it was lifted in the 1969. The branch originally served a Gypsum Mine which was located on the north-western side of the village of Gotham. The sidings may one day be reinstated as part of a possible project to double-track the Nottingham side of the GCHR. Trains pass through pleasant countryside at Gotham Moor, teeming with wildlife along with passing under a few bridges.
Rushcliffe Halt Station looking north towards Ruddington
Rushcliffe Halt railway station is named after the nearby "Rushcliffe Golf Club". Station development is ongoing. Just next to the station is the British Gypsum works. On weekdays, trainloads of gypsum are delivered to the works and unloaded on the concrete pad visible from the station platforms.
The original station near the centre of the village of East Leake is currently disused, but is proposed for reopening (for pedestrians only). This will provide the community with a station once again (and ties-in with the local Parish Plan in that respect), as well as a potential home for the thriving East Leake Historical Society. Visitors to the area arriving on the railway will also be able to visit the local pubs and restaurants, which both offer a range of dining options.
Barnstone Tunnel (which is 98 yards long) is the only tunnel on the preserved line. It was built by the Victorian navvies and was dug out by hand. Located close to the "98 yard" Barnstone tunnel was another set of sidings, which although removed could be reinstated in the future for extra storage. Between Barnstone Tunnel and Stanford Viaduct the line follows the ridge forming the Eastern side of the Soar Valley. The railway continues towards Loughborough, passing close to the hamlet of Stanford-on-Soar. The line travels over the River Soar at Stanford Viaduct. GCRN passenger trains first travelled across it in 2000.
GCRN services terminate at a Stop Board close to the A60 road. Beyond that is the connection to Network Rail and the Midland Main Line (MML). There are plans for a high-level station to be built here. The loco shed of the Great Central Railway at Loughborough are just visible, across the MML at least just 1.1 mile across. There are also plans to reinstate a bridge across the MML and to join up with the GCR at Loughborough on the Leicester side.
Once both preserved sections are re-connected (with the bridging of the Loughborough Gap within full completion) this would extend to a total of over 18 miles in length.
City of Truro, the first steam locomotive in the world to top 100mph, leaves 50 steps junction with a December 2010 Santa Special Service
The railway operates classic steam / diesel hauled services to Rushcliffe Halt and Loughborough. Most trains are steam-hauled, but the resident classic heritage diesel collection is one of the best in the Midlands. GC Railway Nottingham operate every Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays from Easter through to October, and also Saturdays during school holidays, and during December ("Santa Specials" during weekends before Christmas and on Christmas Eve, and post Christmas services on 27/28 December). As well as regular services, GCRN also operate a host of Special Events and "Gala" days. There are 7 steam locomotives permanently based at the railway, 6 of them being of Industrial Origin, 4 of these being locomotives which once worked at Stewarts & Lloyds at Corby, Northamptonshire. The line has also hosted locomotives of BR/Big 4 pedigree, notable examples in recent years being GWR 3700 Class 3440 City of Truro, LBSCR Terrier 662 "Martello" and LNER O4 63601.
S160 2-8-0 No. 1631. (Stored in kit form around the yard at Ruddington complete with a large number of spares. Long Term restoration has begun on small scale, and will increase in pace once Rhyl is completed)
Six Wheeler GCR No 946. The group's current restoration project, bodywork restoration is nearly complete and the body has lifted to replace some timber on the chassis, replace a leaf spring and test and work on the brakes. All of the old timber has been removed and some of the fittings that were removed for attention are being fitted and then the new timber will be fitted, the leaf springs have been refurbished and are ready for fitting, the bolts are being worked on and five out of ten doors have been finished.
Barnum Bar coach No 228 built in 1910. The framework, chassis, floor and roof are in good condition. It is planned to fit a bar in once finished. Restoration planned to start once the new Barnum building is built.
Barnum Brake Coach No 695 built in 1910. Currently in No 5 shed (intended to store running locomotives) undercover but a building is being made up which will hold all four Barnums. Restoration is planned to start once 228 is completed. A kitchen will be fitted to this during restoration. No work ongoing.
Barnum Dining Car No 666 built in 1910. Outside No 5 building but to be moved into the planned Barnum building, work due on it once 695 is completed, should go inside No 5 building to have its body, roof and windows repaired once 664 has had similar work done on it. No work ongoing.
Barnum Dining Car No 664 built in 1910. Undercover in No 5 shed but will be moved into the planned Barnum building. Work is planned to start once 666 is completed. It is currently being made weatherproof and fit for display by having its body, roof and windows repaired so 666 can take its place inside for a short while to have some work done on it. The current work is that the body is being sanded and preparations are being made to fit some wood on the roof to make it watertight.
Clerestory 1st and 3rd class No 1663. Body stored on a flat wagon but frames are nearly ready to hold the body to take the weight of the body, shortly to be moved onto its own frames. Final frame work and bodywork restoration will begin once Barnum No 664 is complete. Undercover in No 5 building.
Suburban No 799. Outside with good framework and the roof has recently been tarpaulined. Work due to start once 1663 is complete.
Suburban GCR Coach No 555. Parted from its frames at the moment. Work due to start once 799 is complete.
Six Wheeler No 373 GCR. Stored with poor body and major work needed on the frames. It will be the last carriage to be restored.