GWR Trust steams past £quarter-million appeal target
Railway’s future secure as embankment slip cost is met in just 10 weeks
Volunteers ‘deeply grateful for every penny contributed’
Railway remains closed thanks to Covid-19 restrictions
Pictures by Jonathan Taylor showing the piling complete - contractors are now finishing off and tidying up the site. Hi-res images available from the Press Office.
Winchcombe, 01 June 2020: The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Trust (GWRT) has steamed past its £250,000 appeal target to help the railway pay huge bills to repair an embankment landslip – work on which has now almost been completed. As at 31 May, about £255,000 had been donated by sympathetic supporters.
The popular Cotswold tourist destination suffered a double blow: while the landslip needed urgent and costly remedial work, cancellation of train services due to the Covid-19 crisis meant that there was no income to pay for the repairs.
The Trust, which launched its Appeal in mid-March, is the charitable body that supports the 14-mile Cheltenham to Broadway Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway, which last year carried over 125,000 passengers.
Glyn Cornish, GWRT Chairman said: “£250,000 was the expected cash shortfall the railway would face in paying for the embankment repairs so we set our sights high, hoping to raise a substantial part of that sum.
“To have reached the full amount in just ten weeks and at a time when so many people are facing their own difficulties; and when there are so many appeals for help, is just astonishing.
Glyn Cornish added. “I know that all of the volunteers on our railway are deeply grateful for every penny contributed. More than 1,300 people have made contributions and from the bottom of my heart, I want thank everyone who has helped meet our target.
“Whether £5 or £5,000, there is no doubt that it has secured the future of our wonderful railway. Contributors can be assured that every penny raised has gone into the landslip repair.
“It very humbling to know that our railway is so well loved by so many people.”
Now that this ambitious target has been met, the appeal has been closed. However, if supporters still wish to contribute to the future work of the Trust, they can do so, and it will go into the Trust’s funds to support other projects.
The landslip has been repaired by specialist contractors, using both soil nailing and sheet piling techniques to permanently secure the embankment, which is between Bishops Cleeve and Gotherington. It is built over ancient ridge-and-furrow farmland which has proved unstable and exacerbated by a long dry summer followed by a very wet winter, the embankment started to become unstable.
Glyn Cornish points out, however: “The embankment is well over 100 years old and
while we can’t say for certain that something like this won’t happen again, we know we can effectively repair such embankment slips and we are working continuously on improving drainage to avoid such future occurrences.
“But what we couldn’t possibly foresee was that Coronavirus would close this and every other British heritage railway, cutting off its income and thus its ability to meet big bills like this.”
Meanwhile, the railway has announced that it will remain closed at least until the end of August because of the Coronavirus situation and has cancelled all remaining events on the line. For updates, visit www.gwsr.com
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NOTES FOR EDITORS
Media contact: Ian Crowder, 07775 566 555 or firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT THE GWSR
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.
The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Trust (GWRT) is the charitable supporting body, which attracts members and volunteers who offer their time in a wide range of roles on the railway. The Trust makes grants to the GWSR aimed at enriching the experience for volunteers and visitors within the historic context of the line. It has been able to launch this emergency appeal in order to help the GWSR meet the cost of the embankment repair at a time when there is no income from normal train revenues. Donations to the appeal attracted HM Revenue & Customs support through Gift Aid and the totals quoted include that. For continued donations go to https://www.gwrt.org.uk/Make_a_Donation.html