Steam railway to reopen in March after £0.5m of repairs

Glos Warks sees passenger numbers double after broadway extension
Credit: GWSR

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway has announced that they will begin running trains on the 7th March 2020, despite a further two landslips on the 14-mile line requiring repairs.

The first is an embankment landslip south of Gotherington station and the second affects the cutting at the north end of Greet tunnel, close to Winchcombe station.

The railway suffered devastating embankment slips in 2010 at Gotherington and in 2011 near Winchcombe station, both of which closed the line for several months.

The railway has since invested a considerable amount of money in improving drainage throughout the line, which runs between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway.

Credit: Malcolm Ranieri

The latest slip first appeared before Christmas, and a 5mph speed restriction was put in place for the rest of the running season. Since then, the landslip, which was on the up-side of the formerly double-track line, has worsened, not helped by a wet winter.

The cause of the landslip is thought to be the amount of rain which followed a very dry summer.  Contractors are on-site working to repair the slip.

March is an important month for the railway.  Not only is the line scheduled to reopen for public services on Saturday 7th March following the winter maintenance break, it is also host to Cheltenham Festival National Hunt services operated by Classic Hospitality, with two trains departing Toddington each day 10-12 March and on Gold Cup day, Friday 13th, three trains: two from Toddington and one from Broadway.

Credit: GWSR

In the cutting between Winchcombe station and Greet tunnel, part of the cutting has slipped towards the track. This has happened on the up side of the line and has not affected the GWSR’s running line.

The cause has been found to be the siting of the rainwater soakaways from new houses. Thanks to the rain, the soakaways have become full, thus meaning the land has become saturated and the land sliding towards the line. Temporary repairs have been completed using contractors who were working on improving the River Isbourne channel where it passes beneath the Gloucestershire Warwickshire railway north of Winchcombe station.

What did the officials say?

Richard Johnson, the volunteer chairman of GWSR Plc, says:

“We expect the work to take until April or early May and unfortunately, this will make a £500,000 dent in the railway’s finances although the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Trust has made a substantial contribution towards the cost.  We are very fortunate that we were able to both secure the services of specialist contractors at short notice and that an appropriate supply of soil nails could be secured.

“The line south of Gotherington is closed to rail traffic at present although we expect, and the civil engineers are working towards, stabilising the embankment sufficiently for trains to pass from 7th March: inevitably, with a speed restriction.”

“The problem has been stabilised by removing all the loose spoil and installing large concrete blocks at the bottom of the slope.  This will secure it for the coming year and a permanent solution will be started next winter.

“Our claim for compensation is against the householders and their insurers and we have been working with them on this.”

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  1. The Gloucestershire-Warwickshire (Steam) Railway have come A Surprisingly Long Way Since They first began (Their Preservation Story of course).

    They’ve even worked hard over past number of months getting this Terrific ‘Eagerly-Must-Visit’ ex-Cross Country Line back up and running for the 2020 season.

    Also, It’ll be exactly 2 years since the GWSR finally opened up their long-awaited Northern Extension up the line to Beautiful Broadway.
    (I’ve even followed this chapter of their intriguing Preservation Story, through that well-written Broadway Blog in-between).

    I’m still wishfully hoping to visit and ride aboard one of it’s trains along this Colourful Cotswold Heritage Railway ‘in-person’ someday.

    I Wish the GWSR Good Luck on their upcoming 2020 Season, Hope it’s A Successful one too.


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