A WINTER of disruption lies ahead for commuters, residents and businesses after Network Rail announced plans to close the railway bridge at Stratton Green for five months.

The bridge over the railway in Swindon Road is to be closed for 20 weeks from November 17 as Network Rail reconstructs it, in line with the Great Western Electrification Programme.

Pedestrians and cyclists will be permitted to cross, but all vehicles will be forced to take a diversion taking them as far west as the Transfer Bridges.

Pub worker Clare Strange, 34, is a mother-of-two living in Verwood Close, Park North, who, during term-time, takes her daily commute to The Dockle Farmhouse in Bridge End Road via Goddard Park Primary School.

The shift manager now faces an extended commute along already-congested roads to the pub, which may face a tough time keeping busy with no direct routes to Greenbridge Retail Park, Liden or Nythe.

“If I am coming to work it normally takes me seven minutes, but if it’s going to take me a long time, that could affect me getting to work,” she said.

“It gets busy down here (Bridge End Road) anyway. I finish at 3.30pm and I pick my kids up on the way home.

“We should be told about things like this. I have lived here for so long and nobody has got in touch to let us know about this.

“I put my kids in an after-school club so I don’t have to rush to pick them up. I pay them for half an hour and if you are as little as 10 minutes late they charge you up to six o’clock.

“That all adds up in the long-term. There’s a few of us that live that way, over in Liden, Nythe and Park North. We’re all going to be affected.

“I can’t believe they’re going to do it over Christmas too. Everyone goes to Greenbridge and either comes here for breakfast or lunch as a part of their day. We’re just hoping our reputation will carry us through.”

Darren Gee is the manager at The New Inn in Swindon Road. He shared some of Clare’s concerns on the prolonged road closure.

“We have a lot of regulars and locals that come from that side,” he said.

“There are a number of darts teams and pool teams who come here for matches too.

“I couldn’t believe it when I saw the plan. Cars are queuing up around here as it is. It will be horrendous..”

Andrew Haynes, project director for Network Rail, said: “Significant work is required on this bridge in order to prepare it for electrification and the benefits this will bring.

“We understand that this temporary closure could inconvenience those who live and work in the area, and we are working closely with Swindon Council to minimise disruption and complete the work in as short a timeframe as possible.

“We will be holding a public event in September to explain more about the work we are undertaking and to provide an opportunity for people to ask questions. More details about this event will be available shortly.”