COMMUTERS travelling by train from Newbury, Thatcham and Hungerford are set to be hit by four days of disruption next week, with a number of stations closed and buses replacing trains between Pewsey and Theale from Monday to Thursday.
It is to allow vital work to take place ahead of electrification of the line and is the first in a series of closures between now and November.
Long-distance services from London to the West of England will continue to run by using a different route.
Some will leave from London Paddington, and Reading, at different times than normal and journeys may be up 30 minutes longer.
Affected towns and villages include Bedwyn, Hungerford, Kintbury, Newbury, Thatcham, Midgham, Aldermaston and Theale.
Great Western Railway (GWR) announced: “Network Rail will be undertaking upgrade work on various weekdays this year between Monday, March 12, and Thursday, November 22.”
During the first round of closures, Midgham level crossing will be closed for three nights from Sunday, March 11; Thatcham level crossing will be closed for two nights from Wednesday, March 14, and Colthrop level crossing will be closed for five nights from Sunday, March 11.
All the closures will be between 10pm and 6am.
One angry local rail user, Mike Sarson, described the closures as a “major scandal”.
He said: “Why are they closing the line for four weekdays at a time rather than for, say, two weekdays and three weekends?
“No reasonable bus replacement service is proposed, only untimed buses stopping at every station between Hungerford or Newbury and Reading.
“Why not direct fast buses to Reading from Hungerford, Newbury and Thatcham?
“And what about commuters who have bought season tickets but can’t travel to their jobs?”
GWR stated: “Next year promises to be a very important one for train travel, as we deliver greater capacity and improved reliability across our network.
“Brand new Intercity Express Trains, plus the electrification of the route between Reading and Newbury, mean journeys will be quicker and seating capacity will be increased.”
A full timetable of the closures can be found at https://www.gwr.com/travel-updates/planned-engineering/newbury2018