PETE WATERMAN LAUNCHES £1m EMERGENCY APPEAL TO REPAIR GLOUCESTERSHIRE RAILWAY EMBANKMENT COLLAPSE
07 September 2010
Pete Waterman, music industry statesman and railway enthusiast,
launched the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway's (GWSR) £1
million emergency appeal today, Tuesday
This follows the collapse of one of the railway's embankments,
cutting off three miles of one of the UK's leading heritage
railways. Described as one of the worst earthwork failures on
any railway, over 250 metres of line is affected, repair of which
will cost in the region of £900,000. It has left some track hanging
in the air.
Meanwhile, services have been curtailed to seven miles between
the railway's Toddington, Gloucestershire headquarters station and
Gotherington station, close to where the railway has been
Waterman, the GWSR's President, says that getting the railway's
full length reinstated is vital. "That's not just for the
future of the railway which has been steadily been rebuilt by its
entirely-volunteer workforce over the past 30 years, but for the
local tourist economy as well.
"Heritage railways are big business in Britain and the GWSR - or
Honeybourne Line - is no exception. People who visit it use
local facilities and go to other tourist attractions. When it
suffers, they suffer too.
"This £1 million appeal will not only finance repair of the
devastating landslip to the highest possible standards, but will
enable the railway to take steps to ensure nothing similar happens
"One of the wonderful features of the line is that long sections
run along embankments which afford some fantastic views of the
Cotswolds and over the Vale of Evesham to the Malverns and Black
Mountains beyond. That's one of the railway's maintenance
headaches, too, so it's important that we ensure these attractive,
century-old earthworks remain in good condition."
The Honeybourne Line owns 15 miles of trackbed (closed by
British Railways in 1976) between Cheltenham and Broadway, of which
10 miles has been re-opened. The railway is on target to open
the line to Broadway in five years time, and expects to continue
north to Honeybourne and form a junction with the upgraded
Worcester to Oxford line.
About the collapse
The collapse occurred because of a combination of circumstances
including the local geology on the edge of Cotswolds; the way water
has affected the embankment over the 105 years since being built
and a legacy of ongoing repairs carried out by British Railways in
the 1960s and 1970s.
A geotechnical survey has provided vital information about the
makeup of the embankment , the land on which it is built and the
way the soil has moved (and continues to move). A design for
repair has been produced which involves seven separate sections of
work, ranging from stabilising the existing embankment to complete
rebuilding of the earthwork, which at its highest is about eight
About the appeal
The Appeal is seeking both donations from well-wishers as well
as issue of shares in Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway
Plc. Blocks of £50 share are available while the '300 Club' is open
to people prepared to invest £1,000 or more - for which they will
earn a 'golden pass' entitling them to unlimited travel on the
railway for life.
Even before the appeal has been officially launched, around
£70,000 has already come in from well-wishers. "The
Honeybourne Line is much loved both by local people and the railway
movement as a whole," says Waterman. "That so much money has
already come in, even before this major launch, underlines that
About the railway
What was originally a double-track high-speed main line opened
between Stratford-upon-Avon and Cheltenham in 1906 It
provided a vital link for the Great Western Railway between
existing railway networks of the industrialised West Midlands and
Cheltenham for routes to South Wales and the West Country.
The section between Honeybourne Junction and Cheltenham was
brand new, one of the last main lines built in Britain, following a
route along the edge of the Cotswold escarpment. This 20-mile
stretch involved significant civil engineering works, including a
large viaduct and two tunnels, as well as long stretches of
cuttings and embankments. The line was heavily used by both
through freight and express passenger trains as well as local
passenger services. Most of the local stations were closed by
1960 and services continued to decline until the line was closed
completely in 1976. Three years later, the track was removed
and most buildings had been demolished.
The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway was formed in 1980 to
re-build as much as possible of the former Stratford-upon-Avon to
Cheltenham route. It started running a modest service over
700 metres of track at Toddington in 1983. Since then the
railway has grown at an average rate of about half-a-mile per year,
rebuilding lost infrastructure. It reached Cheltenham
Racecourse in 2003. It expects to open a new two-mile
extension to Laverton in 2011 and four years later, to Broadway
where construction of a new station has already started. The route
is protected in local structure plans.
The landslip is close to Gotherington station, just under three
miles north of Cheltenham Racecourse station.
The railway is entirely built and operated by volunteer
staff. GWSR Plc has an annual turnover of about £1m and
carries about 75,000 fare-paying passengers per year.
Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway: www.gwsr.com
Ian Crowder (press officer), 07775 566 555 or email@example.com
Malcolm Temple (Chairman, GWSR Plc) 07899 923 377 or firstname.lastname@example.org