Plans by Network Rail to close the Dauntsey Lock bridge for five months as part of electrification works will create a travel nightmare for villagers, who are worried about being cut off from services.

They say they will face a 24-mile diversion when the bridge and the road underneath it, on the B4069, are closed from Saturday next week as part of plans to provide an electric rail service from London Paddington to Bristol by 2016.

Representatives from Network Rail were available to take questions at a public meeting on Monday, but residents said they had been given little time to voice their concerns.

Ellen Blacker, chairman of Dauntsey Parish Council, said: “The communication has been appalling. We’ve been told it’s happening and so to just get on with it.

“Dauntsey is a split-up village.

“The school and the church are on one side of the motorway and on the other side there’s the pub and the canal lock. The closure of the railway bridge is going to split it even further.”

Network Rail has planned a diversion route for people who need to travel from one side of the village to the other, from Dauntsey to Dauntsey Lock.

The route takes drivers more than 24 miles along the B4069 to Chippenham, where they can join the A4 to Calne and head north on the A3102 to Royal Wootton Bassett.

Dauntsey Lock resident Jill Smith said: “The diversion routes are horrendous if you think of all the extra fuel you’ll need.

“I’ve got in touch with my doctor in Malmesbury so that I can do things online, but if I have an emergency I’ll have to go out to Royal Wootton Bassett and right round.

“We have neighbours next to us with children who go to school in Chippenham and they’re obviously concerned about how they will get the children on the bus.”

Fred Potter owns two farms, Little Middle Green Farm in Dauntsey and an arable farm in Lyneham, which will be cut off from each other during the closure.

He said: “Our biggest issue will be getting the combine up and down. It will cost a lot in extra time and diesel and there’s no decent road as a substitute.”

Robin Basu, from Network Rail, said the company would work with people locally to provide information and address individual concerns.

He said: “We want to be honest about the impact these works are going to have; that’s the purpose of this meeting.

“We do sympathise with anyone who is affected as a result of the road closure, but this is a necessary element of these works.”

To contact Network Rail call 08457 114141.