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Honeybourne Line train services continue despite Gotherington landslip

article by: webmaster
posted on: 23 April 2010
updated on: 04 June 2010

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway - the 'Honeybourne Line' - has with immediate effect, altered its steam train services following a landslip on an embankment near Gotherington. 

Malcolm Temple, the railway's chairman, says: "The slip was discovered on 22nd April and although it does not directly affect the track over which trains run, as a precautionary safety measure we have decided to suspend all train services south of Gotherington. 

"This means that no services will call at Cheltenham Racecourse station although trains will run as normal between Toddington and Gotherington Halt but to a revised timetable.

"Safety is of course, our number one priority.  We check our line every day before trains run and this is how movement of the embankment was noticed.  We have instructed specialist engineers to make trial bores in the land to determine the extent and cause of the problem and repairs will be carried out as soon as possible.

"It is of course too early to say when the line will be reopened or what the cost is likely to be."

All visitors to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway should travel to Toddington station where additional car parking will be available.

Malcolm continues: "The planned celebration of the 175th anniversary of the Great Western Railway between 29th May and 6th June will still go ahead with a spectacular star-studded cast of visiting locomotives.  As a bonus, trains will for the first time in nearly half a century, be travelling north from Toddington over the spectacular 15-arch, 50ft-high Stanway viaduct affording Festival visitors an impressive new spectacle!"

23 comments for “Honeybourne Line train services continue despite Gotherington landslip”

  1. Posted 26 April 2010 at 12:20:58

    Why has the headline title of this article been written in a way that you are almost or virtually are delighted that you have suffered yet another landslip? It's not something to be proud of or to get excited about.

    Is track maintenance becoming shoddy, because the first landslip happened just before Christmas.

    I have paid and booked a ticket for your GWR 175 Festival of Steam event, however I will have to cancel if the railway is unable to get the track repaired in time and trains running to Cheltenham Racecourse (I have to rely on Public Transport). It's just a shame that you do not organise any heritage buses to operate between Cheltenham and either Winchcombe or Toddington. Surely the railway knows some vintage bus owners who may be willing to help.

  2. Gravatar of Chris WaltersChris Walters
    Posted 26 April 2010 at 15:02:18

    These thinks do happen, could be worse and have put the line out of action for months as the rains did to the SVR a few years back!!!!!!!

    I hope the GWR will do their upmost to continue with the 175 celebrations. I for one will still attend what ever happens. With a gala of this size it will be a day to remember anyway.

  3. Gravatar of GWSR WebmasterGWSR Webmaster
    Posted 26 April 2010 at 19:55:03

    Chris - Thank you for your message. Rest assured all stops will be pulled out to make GWR175 as good as it possibly can be.

    Peter - trust me, no one is taking any pleasure from the landslip. Why would we want it to happen on the eve of the Thomas weekend and 5 weeks before the GWR175 gala? I think you should give the gala organising committee a chance to meet and thrash out new plans before you criticise too much.

  4. Posted 26 April 2010 at 20:48:16

    I must admit we on GWR Pway are not delighted about this news. The suggestion that track maintenance has become shoddy is really out of order. Last year a midweek gang was set up to undertake extra maintenance tasks, I believe we are well ahead on running line maintenance compared to past years.

    I personally am hoping for a quick turn around of engineering investigations and data analysis to allow the re-instatement of the services to Cheltenham as soon as possible, although not using the loop as planned.

    I don't want to undermine the statement made but above there are some concerns with it....

  5. Gravatar of Howard ParkerHoward Parker
    Posted 27 April 2010 at 09:17:40

    Obviously everyone is upset that this has happened. Maybe the best reaction is: 'how can I help to get trains back to Cheltenham as soon as possible?' rather than griping, Peter.

    Our proud boast is that this is one of very few 100% volunteer railways so it needs to be all hands to the wheel - as usual. the PW gang are great and it's completely out of order to blame people in this sort of situation. The Webmaster was just doing a good job keeping morale up

  6. Gravatar of Ian CrowderIan Crowder
    Posted 27 April 2010 at 09:44:06

    Reference Peter's comment: this is the wording of a press release that has been sent out and the headline is designed to emphasise that despite the landslip we are nevertheless running trains. Trains are operating to Gotherington for the time being. Safety clearly has to be our number one priority and train's wont pass beyond Gotherington until repairs have been carried out and that is likely to be some time. Throughout the UK's railway network, trains are running on earthworks that are often a century or more old and slips happen from time to time and this applies to the heritage sector as much as it does to the Network Rail. Until assessments have been made by professionals we aren't going to speculate on the cause of this slip. This is not a reflection of the quality of maintenance.

    Meanwhile, we still continue to run trains, give our visitors a great day out and we will still put on a spectacular celebration that justifies the 175th anniversary of the Great Western Railway.

  7. Posted 27 April 2010 at 10:13:55

    I apologise for my 'griping', however it does strike me strange that this landslip is taking place on the same section of line between Gotherington and Cheltenham Racecourse.

    Howard - I am disabled, live in Hertfordshire and must rely on public transport. I am also unemployed, so I can't help money wise.

  8. Gravatar of Andy BryneAndy Bryne
    Posted 27 April 2010 at 11:47:20

    As I understand it, the current landslip is just south of Gotherington station and nowhere near the earlier landslip which was just north of Cheltenham Race Course Station. There is nothing strange (unlike Mr Skuce seems to think) about it as the GWR line runs along the foot of the Cotswold Escarpment for quite a distance. The geology here consists of Oolitic Limestone hills which give way at the lower slopes to the Liassic (blue) clays of the Vale. The Liassic Clay is generally stable but clay, as we know, is unusual stuff and it can easily shrink and crack or swell and bulge depending on the weather. Given the fact that it has been very dry this month this may have something to do with it but it would be inappropriate to speculate. As I'm not "on the ground on site" I won't comment further but I know that the GWR will be doing all they can to get things back to normal. The problems of clay stability were an issue during BR and original GWR days so there is nothing strange about it. The comment about track maintenance becoming "shoddy" should be dismissed at once and it has been by subsequent posters who do the actual work. If I was a lawyer I would be interested in Mr Skuce's utterances but since I'm not, I'm not, if you understand my meaning! Full speed ahead to the GWR.

  9. Gravatar of Keith LilleyKeith Lilley
    Posted 27 April 2010 at 14:51:41

    I'm very sorry to hear this news. What a blow, and so near to the GWR175 event as well - all the more reason to pay the railway a visit over the coming months and help top up funds to help with getting the line reopened! Certainly it won't put me off and my family's visit in June. We're coming from Northern Ireland, and will spend a week in the area.

    As for public transport, the GWR website has information on bus services to Toddington from Cheltenham...

  10. Posted 27 April 2010 at 15:49:35

    I am sorry for what I wrote, however I did not know that the railway ran over unstable ground. If the above article mentioned the fact that the railway runs over unstable ground and that both the GWR and British Railways had problems with this, then I would not have written my message.

    Andy - so you think that I should be sued or sent to prison because of my unhappy comments and the fact that I might be wrong? Whatever happened to free speech, even if you do get it wrong?

    Keith - I know about the bus from Cheltenham to Toddington, however have you seen both the First Great Western London - Cheltenham times and the bus timetable? They do not link up and there are is not a frequent service to Toddington, I would catch the 0815 London Paddington - Cheltenham service, which is the first train of the day and there are no buses from Cheltenham to Toddington at the time of the train's arrival (1022). So I get on the Stagecoach Park and Ride, which runs every ten minutes throughout the day.

  11. Gravatar of Peter SkucePeter Skuce
    Posted 27 April 2010 at 15:54:10

    Keith - ignore my last message, I can travel to Winchcombe by bus from 1045 and leave there at around 1730.

  12. Gravatar of Andy BryneAndy Bryne
    Posted 27 April 2010 at 21:34:44

    Mr Skuce, like I said, I'm no lawyer but care is needed in these times. However,you have apologised which is much appreciated (by me anyway)and something which many people find difficult to do, so I think that's most appreciated. I don't have an official capacity on the GWR, I'm just a long time supporter and shareholder so I do have a tendency to rush to its defence!

  13. Gravatar of Ivor DixonIvor Dixon
    Posted 28 April 2010 at 22:48:28

    I would like to assure everyone that ongoing maintenance of our running line is my top priority. We are a totally volunteer railway (no paid staff)and we give many hours per week both on and off the railway. As Nigel said we now have a mid week gang in addition to the normal weekend gang. Gotherington, along with two other areas of the railway are well known for their instability, and there is evidence of previous remedial work going back to GWR and BR (WR) times. Two of these areas on our line were illustrated in the 1926 edition of a PWI booklet explaning slips in cuttings and on embankments. The current area is not in the normal terms a slip, but the ballast is dissapearing into holes on the flat surface of the trackbed.

    Head of Permanent Way

  14. Gravatar of Keith LovenKeith Loven
    Posted 29 April 2010 at 09:39:32

    I have yet to visit the railway, although I do follow progress on its excellent website (probably the best of all the heritage railway websites, by the way) and I have been very impressed by the dedication of the PWay team who seem to be out every week in all weathers. Much of the time, it's not able to do the more exciting work of growing the extension, but is instead dealing with all the painstaking maintenance jobs that are so vital to safety. So may I just add a vote of support for the PWay Team, and wish the Railway a good season in spite of this setback?

  15. Gravatar of Andrew FarmerAndrew Farmer
    Posted 30 April 2010 at 06:13:32

    This is indeed unfortunate news, but having visited the GWSR numerous times I am sure it will not detract from the festival. In fact the new line over the viaduct should more than compensate!
    Despite living within walking distance of the SVR, I visit the GWSR far more often which says a lot about the line. I have always found everyone friendly, yet professional.

  16. Gravatar of Peter WotherspoonPeter Wotherspoon
    Posted 30 April 2010 at 12:31:19

    Although the cracks in the embankment are bad news, there's always a good side to look at. Because trains have to be top-and-tailed to Gotherington, and because there will be an extra return trip from Gotherington to Winchcombe for every service, Winchcombe station is going to become a very busy station, with a number of light engine movements on Red timetable days.

    And the opportunities for walking from Gotherington to Winchcombe or vice versa and taking the train back are certainly worth investigating - there's a variety of suitable footpaths both north and south of the railway.

  17. Gravatar of Rob PryceRob Pryce
    Posted 30 April 2010 at 13:49:07

    Dear sirs, I always try to look on the positive side. The chance to travel north from Toddington will more than compensate for missing out on Cheltenham. And lineside at Winchcombe should be a joy! May I wish all at GSWR the very best of luck(and good management),with all that is necessary to get back to great railway that you already are. I will still be travelling from Bolton.Yours sincerely, Rob Pryce.

  18. Gravatar of brian drucebrian druce
    Posted 01 May 2010 at 18:54:26

    Rabbits? Badgers? Change of direction of spring/watercourse? Just a thought.
    Brian Druce - retired signalman.

  19. Gravatar of Bernie HollandBernie Holland
    Posted 02 May 2010 at 03:48:33

    I can't believe I am reading comments from people criticising the GWSR over the landslip near Gotherington. Maybe all these people would like to band together and actually do something constructive to remedy the problem instead of sniping at the Permanent Way Department. Remember it is through the laborious efforts of GWSR volunteers that the railway was reinstated all the way from Toddington to Cheltenham. The area around Gotherington and Dixton is an outcrop of the Cotswold Hills that, unlike Cleeve Hill which is solid limestone, is mainly composed of Jurassic Clay and Blue Marl. These are known as 'plastic' formations which in simple terms are liable to shift over periods of time under certain conditions. So, as these unfortunate circumstances have arisen from natural causes, it is grossly unfair to attribute this to negligence on the part of the permanent way department. Finally, in spite of all this, the GWSR 175 Gala is going to be the greatest event yet to occur on the railway, so be there or be square !

  20. Gravatar of Mike BondMike Bond
    Posted 02 May 2010 at 16:50:29

    I visited GWSR again with my family over Easter. I'm always impressed that an organisation run only by volunteers can achieve so much. I hope the trackbed can be shored up without too much expense. I've just bought shares, hoping to assist the Broadway extension, it would be a shame to have to divert major funds to existing track! Good luck GWSR. Wish I had the time and skill to help.

  21. Posted 08 May 2010 at 02:40:19

    I hope the P-Way department get this sorted soon. At least they are better than Network Rail, sure they've closed part of the line, but at least they don't say stupid things like "9F's ruin the trackwork". :D

  22. Gravatar of matthew ormstonmatthew ormston
    Posted 08 May 2010 at 20:56:46

    Was at this wonderfull line for the diesel gala at the end of march,i love it there.Im a life time member of another heritage railway in the midlands and also spend a lot of time out shooting on farmland and i know what damage rabbits and badgers can do to earthworks,so as a previous poster stated could be a possible cause,however i hope the line is back up to full length asap but it certainly will not deter me from coming down again in the summer and for the next diesel gala,i wish you all the best and a big pat on the back to all volenteers,especially the pw boys and gals.

  23. Gravatar of Bob ThomsonBob Thomson
    Posted 21 May 2010 at 07:03:06

    Dear Sirs,
    As a lifelong fan of steam trains I am looking forward to visiting on the 29th along with my grandson, I am no stranger to landslips as my father who was a railway engineer working on the line going through the Drakensberg mountains in South Africa, And I can always remember him say that ******** has done it again and dissapear for weeks, so all I can say is well done all you track people at least dad was paid so to do this on a voluntary basis takes real dedication.
    Looking forward to an exciting day.

    Bob Thomson.

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