DOZENS of residents flocked to the Civic Centre in Royal Wootton Bassett yesterday to find out about the plans to reconstruct the footbridge at Templars Farm.
The footpath at the bridge will be closed from July 28 until December to enable Network Rail to carry out essential work on the bridge.
The work forms part of the company’s plans to electrify the Great Western line between London and Swansea, in order to make journeys smoother and more comfortable for passengers.
Robin Basu, community relations manager at Network Rail, said: “The electrification of the line means that trains will run on electric rather than diesel using overhead line equipment.
“It will mean that trains can run quicker because they won’t be carrying heavy diesel engines and they will be more reliable, and it will also mean much smoother journeys for passengers.
“It will also be quieter for people who live near the railway and the trains will have 20 per cent more seats than diesel trains.”
But in order for Network Rail to provide the infrastructure for the electric trains they need to raise the bridges and roads in order to make room for the overhead electric equipment.
The process can also be lengthy as Network Rail works with utilities companies and other organisations which will be affected while the work is carried out.
Robin said: “In some cases we will have to stop trains running on the line, but in some cases those services won’t be affected. But we will have to close the roads because the bridges will have to be raised.
“It takes a long time because there is so much work to be done, including speaking to utilities services who are affected by the work we’re carrying out.”
The electrification of the line has already caused frustration for residents in nearby Lyneham after the bridge at Dauntsey Lock was closed.
The bridge on the B4069 connects the village to the M4 at Chippenham, but the closure has meant that drivers have to take a 24-mile diversion to get from one side of the village to the other.
But Robin reassured residents that Network Rail was working hard to ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum while the work is carried out.
He said: “We are always learning how to improve our communication and engagement with the public, and we try to hold as many public exhibitions as we can so the community can come along and speak to us.
“There are a number of bridges near Royal Wootton Bassett which will be affected, but in this case of Templars Farm it is a footbridge so the disruption will be minimal.”
For more information about the electrification process and how it will affect you, visit www.networkrail.co.uk/greatwesternelectrification You can also call Network Rail’s 24-hour hotline on 08457 114 141.