Great Central Railway exterior bridge

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Great Central Railway


Great Central Railway

Step back in time and ride the rails as you board a steam train straight out of classic literature. Relive the early days of tourism as you take the same journey as Thomas Cook’s first day trip passengers. Experience the thrill of passing trains as you travel through the rolling Leicestershire countryside.

Remember the days when steam ruled the rails at Great Central Railway!

Here you will find the UK's only double track, main line heritage railway – and the only place in the world where full size steam engines can be seen passing each other! Trains run every weekend of the year, bank holidays and selected week days in the summer months. 

There are four stations on the line, all of which have are wheelchair accessible: Loughborough Central Station (LE11 1RW), Quorn & Woodhouse Station (LE12 8AG), Rothley Station (LE7 7LD) and Leicester North Station (LE4 3BR). See the Great Central Railway for the latest timetable and fares.

For a first class experience, why book onto the restaurant car service which provides a five course meal whilst travelling between Loughborough and Leicester? Or you can make your childhood dreams come true and try out the ‘Drive a Locomotive’ experience, where you can take the regulator on a mighty steam locomotive or notch up on a powerful diesel. With all this as well as special events, Great Central Railway is a great day out for all the family!

Add Great Central Railway to your Itinerary

Visitor Details

Key Information

Great Central Road, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 1RW

Tel: +44 (0) 1509632323

Opening Times

Opening Times: (1 Jan 2021 - 31 Dec 2021)
Monday - Sunday09:00 - 17:00


Map & Directions



  • Uncover the story - Pioneer of popular tourism, Thomas Cook, arranged his first one-day rail excursion in 1841 by chartering a steam train to take 500 passengers from Leicester to Loughborough and back for a shilling. <hr> The success of this and other excursions led Thomas Cook to set up his own travel agency business, earning Leicester the title of the ‘birthplace of popular tourism’. Thomas Cook was one of the oldest travel firms in the world and a company credited with changing the global tourism landscape. <hr> Today visitors can still follow the same landmark route through the Leicestershire countryside, taking a restored steam train from Leicester North station to Loughborough Central. <hr> An excursion on the Great Central Railway will truly recreate the magic of the golden age of steam. It has a double track section giving passengers the thrill of full-size steam trains passing each other at speed and is in fact the only place in the world where this can be experienced. <hr> In its heyday the Great Central Railway linked cities in the north and Midlands to London. Today it’s not the destination that’s important, but the journey passengers take on this delightful heritage railway. Steam and diesel trains take passengers between a series of charming restored stations, past working signal boxes and water towers, over viaducts and through the rolling fields of the beautiful Leicestershire countryside. <hr> Trains run every weekend of the year, bank holidays and selected weekdays through the summer. In addition, First Class Restaurant Car services provide five course meals whilst travelling between Loughborough and Leicester. As passengers wait for their next train, they can enjoy the refreshments provided at station buffets or browse for gifts at the Emporium. <hr> A full programme of events includes Steam Galas, 1940s Wartime Weekend and themed events for the family.

Accreditations & Awards


  • Visit BritainWe're Good to Go We're Good to Go 2020
  • Regional and MiscellaneousWTTC Safe Travels WTTC Safe Travels 2021

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