Fri, 06 Jul 2018
COMMUTERS will be hit by more rail disruption from Monday – with buses replacing trains for four days between Pewsey and Theale.
The line will be closed between July 9 and July 12 while Network Rail carries out the latest phase of work ahead of electrification.
It will then reopen for three days before a three-week closure from Monday, July 16, to Sunday, August 5.
The route will be closed again from Tuesday, August 28, until Thursday, August 30, while further three-day closures are expected in October and November.
In total, the Newbury to Reading route will experience a 27-day closure over the summer period.
The upgrade work will allow Great Western Railway (GWR) to run new Electrostar trains – formally called Intercity Express Trains (IETs) – direct between Newbury and station stops to the capital.
As well as commissioning the overhead electric lines, Network Rail will complete track renewal and ballast work, in addition to general maintenance works.
Buses will replace trains from stations between Pewsey and Theale during the closures and train services will still operate from Theale to Reading and London Paddington.
Season ticket holders with tickets valid for one month or longer from Pewsey, Bedwyn, Hungerford, Kintbury, or Newbury may use South Western Railway services from Salisbury, Grateley, Andover, Whitchurch, Basingstoke or Overton for travel towards Reading and London Paddington and Waterloo.
GWR managing director Mark Hopwood was confident the “significant programme” of upgrade works was supported by a comprehensive replacement train and bus service.
Mr Hopwood said: “With the completion of electrification work, we will be able to run brand new electric, and bi-mode IETs to Newbury – supporting the local economy with more train seats, more comfortable and more frequent journeys.
“We have worked hard to ensure we have produced a train and bus service that supports the local economy while also allowing Network Rail the vital access it needs to the railway to electrify the route.”
Each IET will offer up to 24 per cent more seats than the high-speed train it replaces, which will see more than 4,500 extra seats every day between Newbury and London Paddington from early 2019.
The new electric trains will also replace older diesel stock operating between Newbury and London Paddington
A wider timetable is set to accompany the increased seat availability.
Managing director for Network Rail’s western route, Mark Langman, said the development will boost local communities across Berkshire and west of London and thanked locals for their understanding.
He said: “We are working very hard with GWR to minimise disruption to passengers while we deliver electrification to Newbury.
“Owing to the scale of the work, we will be doing this over periods of several days.
“I thank the communities in Newbury and across Berkshire for their patience in advance of the upgrade.”