Major work to repair GWSR cutting slip under way

A drone image courtesy of Walsh construction showing Winchcombe cutting works under way with a 120t crane and piling rig at work


  • Essential repair works to stabilise Winchcombe cutting

  • Railway closed south of Winchcombe station

  • ‘Santa Specials’ run from Toddington

  • Post-Christmas trains to operate between Broadway and Winchcombe

  • Cheltenham Racecourse station closed


05 December 2021: Major earthworks are under way on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR), in the cutting between Winchcombe station and Greet Tunnel.  The work is to permanently repair a landslip that took place over the winter of 2019-20 and which caused parts of the back gardens of new houses at the top of the cutting to slip towards the railway line.

Heavy plant crossing: 120t crane in Winchcombe cutting (pic DSACE)

No trains beyond this point (pic Jonathan Taylor)

The cause of the slip was a combination of prolonged heavy rain overwhelming rainwater soakaways following construction of the new homes, coupled with the complex clay geology of the ground.  A temporary repair was completed immediately after the slip occurred and now the permanent solution is being put in place.


The solution was designed by Kings Norton-based consulting engineers David Symonds Associates (DSACE) and Ground Investigation & Piling Ltd (GIP) of Kingswinford.  The work is being undertaken by Walsh Construction Ltd of Worcester, which has considerable experience of railway geology repairs and Ivor King Piling of Nuneaton.


The work includes use of a 120 tonne crane and a specialist Giken piling rig which includes an auger to allow steel sheet piles to be inserted into the ground.  The piles will allow the ground at the top of the cutting to be restored and remove the risk of further slips taking place.


The cost of the work is covered by insurance.


The work means no trains can pass south of Winchcombe station.  The current sell-out ‘Santa Specials’ are therefore running from Toddington station while post-Christmas trains, between 27th December and 3rd January 2022, will run between Broadway and Winchcombe to a special timetable.  Cheltenham Racecourse station remains closed.


Richard Johnson, Chairman of GWSR Plc said: “The work necessary to provide a permanent solution to the slip will take around 20 weeks to complete and should be finished in time for the railway to fully reopen in March 2022.


“I would like to apologise to our neighbours for the obvious noise and disturbance while this essential work is carried out – however, we have little choice but to complete the work to ensure the long-term stability of the earthworks. 


“The cutting is part of the most significant earthworks on the railway which includes Greet Tunnel.  It was dug over 100 years ago, with the railway opening in full in 1906,” he added. 

The line through the cutting was also subject to major drainage works by British Railways in 1949.


Jonathan Symonds of DSACE pointed out: “The cuttings and embankments on the railway, which were built at the beginning of the 20th Century, are steep by modern standards while back then there was little understanding of the geotechnics and behaviour of the soils in the area.  New construction close to the line has disturbed the ground, contributing to the slip.  


“We have opted for a solution that uses sheet piles to stabilise the land beyond the railway’s boundary while extensive counterfort drains will be installed to stabilise the cutting slope.


“While there is absolutely no risk to the properties nearby, there is little doubt that without this work, there would over time be further loss of the back gardens of the affected properties.”


Bridge repairs

Meanwhile, a £200,000 appeal by the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Trust, launched in early November, to fund repairs of the bridge that carries the B4632 road over the railway between Toddington and Broadway, passed its target in less than a month.


Work on the steel bridge, weakened by long-term damage to waterproofing of the deck, will take place during the railway’s winter closure, during January and February, as the bridge needs to be supported from underneath while work is carried out.


Ends / more


Pictures of the work can be found in this Dropbox file:


Media contacts:

Ian Crowder, 07775 566 555 or

Catherine Johnson, 07920 406630 or



The award-winning Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) operates over 14 miles through the Cotswolds between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway.  The railway this year celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the formation of GWSR Plc, to purchase the vacant trackbed between Cheltenham and Broadway. The GWSR is on part of the former Great Western Railway route between the West Midlands and Bristol, South Wales and the West Country, the section between Stratford-upon-Avon and Cheltenham opening throughout in 1906.  The line closed in 1976 and the infrastructure was removed in 1979, the formative GWSR beginning to rebuild the line from 1981. 


The railway is currently running its fully-booked ‘Santa Specials’ out of Toddington station.  A train service operates between Broadway and Winchcombe from 27th December to 3rd January 2022.  Note that there are no trains from Cheltenham because the line is closed south of Winchcombe station for repairs to the cutting.