A view of the embankment slip worksite on March 30th shows the extent of the work necessary to prevent the embankment slipping further. That's Bishops Cleeve in the background (Pic: Jo0nathan Taylor)
£100,000 IN TEN DAYS – RAILWAY’S VOLUNTEERS AMAZED AT APPEAL RESPONSE
- Railway volunteers ‘stunned’ by outpouring of public support
- GWSR threatened by £500,000 landslip and no income
- Coronavirus stops all train services
- Volunteers say a huge ‘Thank You’ to supporters
Winchcombe, Thursday 2nd April 2020: Over £100,000 has poured in to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Trust’s (GWRT) emergency appeal fund over just ten days, that milestone being passed on 1st April – ten days after the railway called out for help.
Piling going in on 24th March 2020 (Pic: Jonathan Taylor
The money is to help the popular heritage railway overcome double disaster: both an embankment landslip which is costing around £500,000 to repair, at a time when the railway has no income thanks to the Coronavirus crisis which has closed down Cotswold tourist attractions.
Glyn Cornish, chairman of the charitable GWRT that supports the volunteer-run Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR), says he is ‘stunned and deeply grateful’ for the outpouring of public support for the line, which operates steam and heritage diesel trains over its 14-mile railway between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway.
The landslip has occurred about half a mile south of Gotherington station near Cheltenham, thanks to unstable ground beneath the embankment coupled with persistent winter rain following a dry summer.
“Frankly, the response has been astonishing and I feel very humbled at the way people have dug in to their pockets to help us through this crisis, when they have plenty of other worries facing them,” says Mr Cornish.
“Donations have come from far and wide – including Europe, Australia and Canada. This kind of support underlines just how popular and loved our railway is.
“We have achieved so much over the 39 years that we first occupied a derelict Toddington station. Now we have a 14-mile line that carried over 125,000 passengers last year, making it one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Cotswolds.
“We have faced many setbacks along the way, but it’s no exaggeration to say that this latest landslip and the present shut-down have combined to form one of the biggest financial challenges we have ever faced.”
Specialist contractors are using a technique known as soil nailing as well as putting in piles to prevent the continuing movement of the embankment – effectively securing it to the land underneath. There were signs that the embankment was becoming unstable before Christmas, the situation worsening in January and February. This has happened despite the railway making significant drainage improvements over the past two or three years.
However, work has had to stop for the time being because of the Coronavirus clamp-down.
The GWSR is unusual for a heritage railway of its size in that it has just six employees and over 950 volunteers who manage the day-to-day operation of the railway.
Mr Cornish adds: “I’d like to say a huge ‘Thank You’ to everyone who has responded to our call for help.
“And while we are all truly amazed at the public response to our dilemma, there is no room for complacency – we need to raise as much money as we possibly can to ensure we can resume the train services that so many people clearly enjoy, when this current crisis is over.”
Donations can be made by cheque, BACS transfer or Pay-Pal. Full details are on the railway’s website at www.gwsr.com
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Media contact: Ian Crowder, 07775 566 555 or email@example.com
For high resolution pictures contact Ian Crowder
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Donations can be made By Bank Transfer to Sort Code 30-90-89 Account 47638368 using the reference ‘Landslip’; sending a cheque payable to GWRT to The Chairman, GWRT, Churchward House, Winchcombe Railway Station, Winchcombe, Glos GL54 5LD or by Pay-Pal – details at www.gwsr.com
The GWSR is almost entirely restored and operated by volunteers and has won several awards since it first started running a simple steam train service over a few hundred yards of track at Toddington, in 1984.It has since steadily grown and now operates main-line steam and diesel trains over the 14 miles between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway.Broadway station, entirely built by volunteers, opened on Good Friday, 2018, scooping a major Award at the annual Heritage Railway Awards that year.The line last year (2019) carried over 125,000 passengers.The GWSR has overcome past difficulties including landslips, one at Winchcombe dividing the railway and costing over £1m to repair.The cause of the latest slip near Gotherington is thought to be a combination of extremely wet weather after a dry summer combined with historic drainage problems and saturated ground.The railway has over recent years invested heavily on drainage improvements.