Network Rail is placing a liaison officer in County Hall in Trowbridge after coming under fire for disruption caused by electrification work in Wiltshire.

The company’s £1bn project to electrify the Great Western line saw The Dauntsey Lock bridge shut on March 8 for five months.

Residents successfully campaigned for three roads to be closed due to safety fears they were being used as rat runs by drivers avoiding the official diversion route.

But the closures of Bowd’s Lane, Trow Lane and the road from Grittleton to Tockenham Wick are said to be costing traders business while home owners say they have been ‘marooned’ by the move.

North Wiltshire MP James Gray met with Network Rail on two occasions last week to discuss the issue, privately at his Westminster office and at Royal Wootton Bassett Town Council. In an email to residents at Trow Lane he said: “At both meetings Robbie Burns, the regional director for Network Rail, reiterated their determination to work with local people to find the best way through what he readily admits will be a very difficult and painful process.

“Network Rail has recognised there may have been failings and problems with the early stages of the electrification process and is determined to improve on it.

“I really do feel that the right way forward is to try and work with them rather than against them. Their interests and those of local people need not be at loggerheads.”

Work is being carried out on bridges at Fosseway and Pig Lane in Sherston, as well as Cabbage Lane south of Corston, which were due to re-open in December. Residents are also concerned about plans to close Skew Bridge on the A3102 heading south out of Royal Wotton Bassett for six months.

Wiltshire Council’s network manager Joanne Heal said: “Network Rail’s electrification project will affect many of the road bridges in Wiltshire and has a major impact on our highway network.

“The first three bridge works in the north of the county were not managed well, have generated an enormous amount of negative feedback and significantly over run in terms of duration.

“As a result we have agreed a more defined set of protocols for communication and management of these schemes and have established a working group with officers from Wiltshire Council and Network Rail in order to manage these works as efficiently as possible.”