Another embankment collapse severs Honeybourne Line
17 January 2011
The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway (The Honeybourne Line)
has suffered a further major embankment collapse.
This time, the collapse is at the so-called 'Chicken Curve' on
the Toddington side of Winchcombe station, near to where the
railway crosses the B4632 Winchcombe to Broadway road.
It comes after the railway suffered a £1 million embankment
failure at Gotherington last year, repair of which is progressing
Malcolm Temple, Chairman of the volunteer-run Gloucestershire
Warwickshire Steam Railway, says the railway's volunteer staff are
devastated at this latest turn of events.
"Last year was the worst in the railway's 29-years of
"Not only did we suffer the Gotherington collapse, which is
subject to a £1 million emergency appeal, but several days of our
busy Santa Specials were lost because of heavy snow and freezing
conditions, costing us between £50,000 and £60,000 in lost
"Just when we thought we were putting a terrible year behind us,
Engineers are assessing the extent of the damage but it is
thought that repair will cost up to a further £0.5 million and will
take several months to complete.
A problem was identified early in January and trains were
stopped from passing over the embankment as a precaution.
Remedial work was carried out but the embankment failed
completely. It is believed that a combination of water
accumulating under the embankment and the recent freezing
conditions led to fractures deep within the embankment.
Adds Malcolm Temple: "Unfortunately, our insurers, who are
paying for part of the Gotherington collapse, will not be prepared
to meet the cost of this latest disaster.
"Our financial reserves have been wiped out by both the
Gotherington embankment failure and by loss of our Santa Special
income. We are not running trains now because of the planned
winter break so we have almost no income.
"Frankly, this has brought the railway to its knees.
"It is the biggest challenge our railway has ever faced and is
certainly one of the worst disasters to affect any UK heritage
The railway is organising an emergency meeting to decide on the
way forward, Malcolm Temple explains.
"Our initial thought is that for much of this year, we are
likely to be running two railways - one between Cheltenham and
Winchcombe (once the Gotherington repair is completed) and one
between Toddington and Laverton, on a new extension which will open
next year," he says.
"We have had to deal with a lot of problems over recent months
and this could hardly be a more awful outcome. But we are a
resilient group and we will pull together and come up with an
"Top of the list is to refresh our appeal launched last year by
our president Pete Waterman - we need every penny we can
Details of how to donate to the Emergency Appeal, which was
launched last year and has raised over £200,000, can be found at www.gwsr.com
'Chicken Curve' has historically caused problems for both the
Great Western Railway, which built the line, and for British
Railways. It was here that a freight train derailed, closing
the route, in 1976.
Media contact: Ian Crowder, 07775 566 555