New £15m plan for East Midlands heritage rail link
Plans to link two sections of the Great Central Railway between Leicester and Nottingham have been boosted with the creation of a new company.
GCR Development Ltd aims to raise £15m to reunite the two track sections creating a 17-mile (27.3km) long heritage and freight railway.
A recent study found bridging the 0.3-mile (500m) gap would benefit the economy and tourism in the area.
The original railway line was severed 40 years ago at Loughborough.
GCR Development Ltd has been created from the boards of both existing railway companies.
Chairman Nigel Harris said: "After more than 30 years of very hard and successful work by our volunteers in creating two eight-mile operating railways, we believe the time has now come to reunite them.
"The reunited GCR can bring major economic benefits to Loughborough, the wider East Midlands and indeed the national economy."
He added: "We are already pursuing a range of partnering, fundraising and other support initiatives."
The reunification involves reconstructing 0.3 miles (500m) of track and building a new bridge over Network Rail's four-track main line at Loughborough.
The two existing Great Central Railway sections have been operating as independent tourist attractions for 30 years in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.
Services are pulled by heritage steam and diesel locomotives.