EASTER holidaymakers should avoid the worst of the disruption likely to stem from railway improvement works between Swindon and Kemble next week.
The £45m project is doubling the track along 12 miles of the rail network to cope with increased demand, as train usage overall in the West Country is due to increase by 44 per cent by 2019.
The work, which has its completion date pushed back to August in February following widespread floods, will come to affect First Great Western passengers in the coming weekend and into next week.
Buses will replace all trains between Swindon and Gloucester from Saturday, April 12 until Tuesday, April 15 and add anything from 30 to 55 minutes to passengers’ journeys.
On April 14 and 15 a limited direct train service will start up from Cheltenham Spa and Gloucester to Swindon, though this will take a longer route via Bristol Parkway.
Those looking to make the most of the four-day weekend across Easter will have access to trains, though timetables will be amended and FGW is advising all passengers to double-check train times before they travel.
Mark Hopwood, managing director at FGW, said: “This upgrade is vitally important to improve our customers’ travel experiences for the future.
“These works to the network infrastructure will pave the way for faster, more reliable services and makes the most of the Government’s planned investment in electrification and new trains – whoever has the privilege of running the franchise beyond 2015.”
The upgrades will pave the way for increased capacity and reduce delays. Once completed in August, the line upgrade between Swindon and Kemble via Gloucester and Stroud will allow for future increased capacity as well as reducing delays, providing a more reliable train service.
The planned work will include the reinstatement of the second line between Swindon and Kemble, upgrade to earthworks along the route to accommodate this new track and new signalling equipment.
This capability will be essential during the planned electrification of the Great Western main line when Bristol Parkway and Severn Tunnel are closed and South Wales trains are diverted along this route.
Network Rail will also need to close the line between Swindon and Gloucester on the week leading up to and over the August Bank Holiday weekend.