Many of you will have been aware that towards the end of the 2012 season we had a slip of the non running side of the embankment at Cheltenham Race Course. Like many of these slips this involved rabbit damage, excess water and the large quantity of ash tipped down the bank sides during BR days. The bottom of the bank was repaired before Christmas using gabions (wire baskets filled with stone) and stone infill. The rest of the embankment has now been repaired which has restored the roadway used by the race course during the festival. Other drainage work and clearance of the streams at the foot of the bank has also been undertaken. The picture below shows the completed works. The gabions can be seen in the centre of the picture, the netting in the foreground has been installed to prevent future rabbit ingress.
Meanwhile, whilst the contractors were on site we looked at the other side of the bank where rabbit damage had caused collapse of the shoulder and it was feared that a slip could soon occur. It was important that this area was fixed before a slip could start as a slip on that side could close the line once again. Volunteers cleared the bank side and dug out the ditch to drain the area. Then the contractors got in a large reach 360 machine and working from the track reshaped the embankment, collapsing all the rabbit burrows. They then rebuit the shoulder with stone. The bank was netted to prevent further rabbit damage and a french drain was installed at the foot of the bank to drain the area and to take the track drain outflow through the site. The ditch was then filled in which will allow a joint project between the GWR and Riding for the Disabled to replace the fence along our joint boundary. This fencing will be happening soon so that horses can be allowed back into the field.
The picture below shows the reworked embankment, the new drain and the area soon to be fenced. During the work the netting was run under the public footpath and stone used to remake the path. This will prevent rabbits digging in the footpath and causing dangerous trip hazards. This was a previous ongoing problem.
The contractors should be leaving site today after a job well done and our thanks go to Richard Meredith, Tony Scrocca and all those at George Law who have worked closely with us to complete this work. Have a ride to CRC on the train and see this work for yourself, a very tidy job that hopefully will keep CRC embankment going for many years to come.
Neil Carr, Operations Manager.