RAIL services between Swindon and London are likely to double this weekend after two task teams found a short-term solution to the flood problems hampering trains at Maidenhead.
For much of this week, only three trains an hour have been running between Swindon and London Paddington in either direction because of the water which has been affecting signalling and safety equipment.
But First Great Western has said services are due to double between the capital and Reading over the weekend, thanks to round-the-clock work from Network Rail and First Great Western staff.
These short-term solutions will not return services to a normal timetable, but the increase between Reading and Paddington should increase trains through Swindon to five or six an hour.
Dan Panes, of FGW, said: “For the last week we have had two joint teams between Network Rail and First Great Western answering two questions.
“The first was what can we do to increase the number of services between Paddington and Reading in the short-term.
“These guys have come up with a solution and we will be implementing over the weekend.
“It involves effectively tweaking some of the signals on the three-and-a-half mile stretch which has been affected by the floodwater. Hundreds of our drivers have been briefed on how to approach these signal tweaks and how to pass through safely.
“It’s still half the services we would normally run, but it’s a considerable improvement.
“It’s involved planning that would normally take two months to plan and mobilise.”
Dan said the second question they are still finding the answer to is how services can be restored to normal.
The current solution has bought the teams some breathing space, according to FGW as the technicians continue to work to find a sensible solution.
“I would still warn that people should only travel this weekend if absolutely necessary and alternative routes should be found if they can,” said Dan.
It is likely ticket restrictions for passengers will be lifted this weekend and into next week.
FGW is also due to work out a timetable for next week’s amended services and passengers are advised to keep checking for any alterations online.
“I must commend the work National Rail and our own workers have done,” Dan said. “This has been the most challenging situation our network has seen for some time.”