Assessment of the stability of embankment and cut slopes over the life of a project are critical issues for railway and motorway infrastructure projects. Experience has shown that many slope failures occur during or shortly after rainfall. Analyses show that failure is initiated by the reduction in near surface suction over some critical depth in the slope. A simple method is proposed in this paper to estimate the time needed for a wetting front to develop. The method which is a modification of the traditional Green–Ampt infiltration model assumes that ponding of water cannot occur on soil slopes and as a consequence soil in the wetted zone remains partially saturated at the point of slope failure. It differentiates between cases where the initial suction in the slope is high and the rate of infiltration is controlled by the rainfall intensity (supply controlled) and, situations where the suction is low, and the rate of infiltration is controlled by the infiltration capacity of the soil (demand controlled). When applied to a case history where field measurements of infiltration into a slope were available the new method provided a reasonable approximation of the measured infiltration time.