When the railway was constructed it consisted of a single broad gauge track, the width being 7ft 1/4inch, though the cuttings, embankment and ballast were all built to take a double track of broad gauge. It was planned to open the 91/2 mile track from Bradford junction to Bathampton on 20th January, 1857, but upon inspection by Col. Yolland, the permanent way was found to be very rough, and the opening was postponed. After further work this stretch of line was opened on 2nd February 1857. Between 18th and 22nd June, 1872, the track was converted to the present gauge of 4ft 8ins, but was still a single track. Conversion to the present double track was completed on 17th May, 1885.

The Kennet and Avon Canal was carried over the railway line by a timber trough on brick abutments. lsambard Kingdom Brunel, who was responsible for building the Great Western Railway, considered the section of track at Avoncliff one of the most difficult on the G.W.R., because of the hazard of burrowing under the canal.

There was originally no station at Avoncliff, though there were stations at Freshford and Limpley Stoke. A platform was constructed at Avoncliff in 1906. It must have been really busy because the quarry firm at Westwood had tracks running from the quarry, behind Avonvilla, across the aqueduct to a stone-yard between the canal and the railway line on the Bath (west) side of the aqueduct. Trucks, carried stone to the stone-yard, where 60 men worked cutting stone; the stone was then transported by rail, from the railway sidings in the yard.

In the early hours of the 8th of February 1998, a goods train was derailed at Avoncliff; fortunately there were no injuries. Rail workers worked continuously for 3 days to clear the line and to repair the damage to the tracks.

In the year 2000, the line through Avoncliff is part of the main South Wales to the South coast of England line and trains stop on request. At those times when the main line is under repair, the track is used by High Speed trains to London, via Westbury. Occasionally, the Orient Express passes through the hamlet and, even more rarely, steam trains. Both provide a contrast to the regular commuter trains and the high-speed Inter City Expresses.