03 April 2020
Over £100,000 has been raised in support for the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Trust’s (GWRT) emergency appeal fund over just ten days, and the figure is still growing.
The money is to help the popular heritage railway overcome an embankment landslip, which is costing around £500,000 to repair, at a time when the railway has no income because of the Coronavirus crisis.
The landslip has occurred about half a mile south of Gotherington station, near Cheltenham, thanks to the unstable ground beneath the embankment, coupled with persistent winter rain following a dry summer.
“Frankly, the response has been astonishing and I feel very humbled at the way people have dug into their pockets to help us through this crisis when they have plenty of other worries facing them,” says Glyn Cornish, chairman of the charitable GWRT that supports the volunteer-run Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway.
“Donations have come from far and wide – including Europe, Australia, and Canada. This kind of support underlines just how popular and loved our railway is. We have achieved so much over the 39 years that we first occupied a derelict Toddington station. Now we have a 14-mile line that carried over 125,000 passengers last year, making it one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Cotswolds,” he adds.
Specialist contractors are using a technique known as 'soil nailing' as well as putting in piles to prevent the continuing movement of the embankment – effectively securing it to the land underneath.
There were signs that the embankment was becoming unstable before Christmas, the situation worsening in January and February. This has happened despite the railway making significant drainage improvements over the past two or three years.
“I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has responded to our call for help,” Glyn concludes.
Donations can be made by cheque, BACS transfer or Pay-Pal. The full details are on the railway’s website at www.gwsr.com.