AFTER nearly three years of repairs and a successful £1 million appeal, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway (GWR) is once again back in one piece.

A special train full of volunteers, donors and invited guests was the first to run over the restored full length of the line on Tuesday between Toddington and Cheltenham Racecourse after two embankment collapses at Gotherington and the ‘Chicken Curve’ at Winchcombe.

Volunteers received an overwhelming response to the £1 million emergency appeal launched by pop music mogul and railway enthusiast Pete Waterman in 2010 to fund the repair work on the Chicken Curve.

Malcolm Temple, chairman of the GWR, said the special day would not have been possible without the generosity of hundreds of individuals and organisations.

“I am overwhelmed by the generosity of so many people,” he said. “One man gave us a cheque for £100,000 which was tremendous.

“We’ve been doing a lot of works quietly in the background, repairing the railway and restructuring it for the future.

“We’ve come out of this a much stronger organisation.

It was all about perseverance and determination from the many volunteers and the wonderful support from the public and my colleagues.”

Gary Boyd-Hope, editor of Steam Railway magazine, whose readers raised £70,000, said the railway’s plight touched many people.

“When we heard that the railway was struggling to get past that final hurdle I thought we might be able to use the weight of the magazine to reach the target,” he said.

“Our readership responded with gusto. No railway enthusiast likes to see a railway struggling.

“It just proves the preservation movement really rally around on things.

I’ve been honoured to be a part of it.”

The railway is now longer than ever – it now runs through to Laverton – and will eventually be extended to Broadway as part of ongoing improvement works.

Volunteers Moira and Peter Gutteridge, who live near Pershore, also helped with the fund-raising.

“One of the things we’ve done over a few weekends is busking on Winchcombe Station,” said Mrs Gutteridge.

“It seemed such an impossible target. To have reached it is great.”