First steam locomotive since lockdown runs at the Great Central Railway

78018 on test at the Great Central Railway
Credit: Great Central Railway

BR Standard Class 2 78018 has been seen in steam and running at the Great Central Railway after repairs.

This is believed to be one of the first steam locomotives to operate on a heritage railway since lockdown began due to coronavirus.

The photographer, who wishes to remain unnamed, was out on his daily walk when he heard the sound of a steam locomotive whistle. As he approached the bridge, along came 78018 running light engine.

78018 on test at the Great Central Railway
78018 on test
Photographer requests to remain unnamed


Michael Gough, Managing Director of the Great Central Railway, told RailAdvent that on Monday, the railway had brought back ten staff from being furloughed to complete essential functions and to prepare for the re-opening of the railway.

On Friday, BR Standard Class 2 78018 was put through trials following repair work (this was carried out prior to lockdown being put in place).

78018 had undergone a valve exam, with a new valve head needing to be fitted, and new valve rings also needing to be fitted alongside the turning of a pony truck wheel.

Michael Gough said that tests were carried out with strict health and safety disciplines in place for the crew of 78018. This included the driver and fireman wearing face coverings, and the guard in the coaches alone.

The GCR are regularly reviewing the situation and are monitoring government advice and will re-open when it is safe to do so.

Managing director, Michael Gough, told RailAdvent “Yesterday we took our first tentative steps towards opening up the Railway and, in doing so, providing our friends and supporters with some much needed “steam”

“We expect to run further tests to check our infrastructure in the coming 14 days to prepare for a return to operating as soon as government regulations allow. Some much needed “steam therapy” in these difficult times!!!”

PLEASE NOTE: The Great Central Railway is CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC – please do not head to the railway and please do not trespass on the railway.

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  1. This is good news so far… The Great Central Railway – Leicester (in Leicestershire) have so far begun to reopen in stages,

    Beginning with the trial run of this Well-Restored ex-BR Standard Class 2 steam loco… even as part of it’s own duty in checking over the infrastructure it forever owns and maintains in-between.

    I still hope to visit this Remarkably-Well-Restored Double Track Heritage Railway ‘in-person’ someday… Not only to check out the fleet of locos, the rolling stock and 4 train stations and Swithland Sidings within-between…

    But to also see a passenger/or demonstration goods train pass one another as this Heritage Railway is definitely Double-Tracked.

    Also, I Wish the GCR Good Luck on getting itselves back up and running trains up and down the line within the foreseeable future… Especially on the long-term Project of rebuilding the GCR Bridge across the Midland Mainline, As well as to reconnect with the other fellow Heritage GCR-Nottingham (in Nottinghamshire).

    Furthermore, I do believe that BR Standard Class 2… is one of at least 4 ex-BR Standard Class 2 steam locos to have been preserved within the UK Preservation Movement.

  2. Nice to see you reopen and run trains over the double track. Best wishes with work on the gap. Hope it’s finished soon and you will be able to run the full 18 miles.

  3. Seriously worrying that the person who took the photograph is concerned that they could be in trouble… The only place you cannot go trainspotting is a station. Out for your daily walk and a train goes by, snap it and there is nothing wrong with that.

  4. Brilliant news! SO good to hear of something positive in the midst of all this horrible CV-19 nightmare, and all power to the GCR – magnificent work – and by golly, it really must be tortuous for the dedicated guys in the workshops – and certainly on the footplate, masked-and-gloved up! The BR Standard 2MT is a cracking little engine that punches well above it’s weight, and it’s lovely to see the ‘surreptitious’ snap of it turned out so well in (I believe) non-authentic BR green – it looks a real gem! So, well done to the gents on the GCR, for providing as one previous poster here said, “a pinprick of light” – which for myself personally goes a helluva long way in the prevailing seemingly endless doom & gloom situation. Many thanks, chaps!


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