With the major civil enginerering to repair the cutting slip at Winchcombe complete, the ballast infill to protect the track and on which plant operated, is cleared away in February 2022 (Jonathan Taylor)
GWSR ready to welcome visitors after significant winter engineering work
Cotswolds heritage railway reopens for 2022 season
Winter engineering work included: earthwork, bridge and pointwork repairs
“It’s astonishing how much has been achieved:” GWSR Chairman
Full season of special events planned – but ‘War in the Cotswolds’ cancelled
Bridge 8 was supported from beneath while repairs were carried out (John Balderstone)
Final stages of repairing the Winchcombe cutting slip (Jonathan Taylor)
The magnificent new canopy extension at Broadway station, built by GWSR volunteers (David Holdsworth)
Coach M34929 which has been beautifully adapted for wheelchair users (Alex Caulfield)
8 March 2022: The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) is ready to welcome travellers over its 14-mile Cotswold line between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway, from Saturday 12th March.
The re-opening for the 2022 season is a week later than originally planned, as a number of significant winter engineering works were being completed.
Trains will be running every weekend and most weekdays until the end of October with the Santa Special season beginning at the end of November. The railway is also planning a wide range of events – however, it has decided to cancel the popular ‘War in the Cotswolds’ scheduled for 23-24 April given the escalating crisis in Ukraine.
Richard Johnson, the voluntary Chairman of GWSR Plc, said in an announcement to volunteers: “The event was intended to be a joyful weekend and that conflicts deeply with what we now see happening. To continue would send completely the wrong message to our potential visitors and the wider public.
“For the same reason, we have also decided that the schools’ ‘Evacuation Days’ should be suspended.”
The first trains of the year are to the steam ‘Purple’ timetable with the first departure from Cheltenham Racecourse to Broadway at 10.00 and the first departure from Broadway at 11.15. The first trains from Toddington are to Cheltenham at 10.15 and to Broadway 10.38. The ‘Blue’ timetable (same train times) operates on Sunday, offering a combination of steam and diesel-railcar operation.
Significant engineering works completed include
- Permanent repair by contractors of a cutting slip at Winchcombe which involved the use of a 200-tonne crane and installation of steel piles, following the collapse of the cutting over the winter of 2019/20. This brought part of the back gardens of new properties down towards the track. Temporary repair prevented further erosion but the permanent repair has just been completed;
- Contract repair of ‘Bridge 8’ which carries the B4632 Broadway Road over the railway near Stanton. This steel bridge has suffered long-term corrosion following damage caused to the waterproof membrane beneath the road service, believed to have been caused when water and/or gas mains were laid over 50 years ago. The repair cost was partly met by an appeal launched in November by the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Trust which raised £200,000 towards the cost of the work in less than four weeks.
- Extension of the canopy at Broadway station to provide an airy, covered area between the station building and the new footbridge. The design closely follows the design of a similar structure that formed part of the original station building which was demolished in 1963. This work has been carried out entirely by volunteers to an impressively high standard.
- Installing new pointwork at both Toddington and Cheltenham Racecourse stations
- Ballasting and tamping of the entire line following the pointwork repairs and maintenance of the track elsewhere, to ensure a safe and smooth ride for trains over the year ahead.
- Demolition of the former Toddington garden centre ahead of construction of a new visitor centre and providing improved facilities and parking at Toddington station in due course.
- Improving drainage including 73 structures that carries water under (or over) the railway from the Cotswolds to the rivers Avon and Severn, timed to avoid bird nesting season.
During the winter break, the fleet of steam and heritage diesel locomotives based at Toddington engineering works have undergone maintenance and repair; while all of the line’s beautifully-presented coaches have been inspected and repaired at Winchcombe carriage works as necessary. One fully-restored coach has been specially adapted to provide additional accommodation for disabled visitors while another has been repainted.
Richard Johnson says: “It is astonishing how much has been achieved since Christmas to enable the railway to reopen for the 2022 season. I think that in terms of engineering work to the running line and stations, this has been one of our busiest-ever winters. Not only has it involved some serious civil engineering and bridge works as well as ensuring that our track meets the highest possible standards for the safe operation of our trains; but maintenance of our stations, signalling and gardens, too.
“Our railway depends on around 900 volunteers. They don’t just put their feet up during the winter break – they muscle in and devote a huge amount of effort to ensure that the railway is in the best possible shape for re-opening.
“It is an enormous tribute to them and to those pioneers who started the long process of restoring this wonderful railway that we have the line we love and enjoy today!
“I can’t wait to welcome our first passengers when the railway starts running public services once again on Saturday 12th March.”
Ends / more
Pictures of the works and pictures of trains on the GWSR can be found and downloaded from this Dropbox file:
Ian Crowder, 07775 566 555 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Catherine Johnson, 07920 406630 or email@example.com
ABOUT GLOUCESTERSHIRE WARWICKSHIRE STEAM RAILWAY
The award-winning Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) operates over 14 miles through the Cotswolds between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway. The railway last year celebrated 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. 2022 train services resumed on 12 March 2022 with a calendar of timetables for the season as well as several special events