NETWORK Rail have thanked commuters for their ‘patience and understanding’ after electrification works brought trains out of Chippenham to Swindon and London grinding to a halt this week.

Three groups of railway workers have been busy on the mammoth £3.5m project on the line through north Wiltshire, working near Dauntsey and Langley Burrell where a new drainage culvert was installed and labouring to lower the track under two listed bridges to allow new electric train services to run on the line later this year.

The works meant the Great Western main line has been closed since Saturday, with alterations to the services made to and from Swindon, Chippenham and Bristol. There have been no trains between Swindon and Chippenham, with replacement buses running.

“So far the response from the public and commuters has been really good and we have had minimal complaints about the disruption,” said communications manager Simon Masters. “I was in Chippenham on Tuesday and Swindon on Monday watching the replacement bus services and there have been no issues with people getting on so we are looking like we are in pretty good shape.

“We want to thank everyone for their patience because we appreciate it is not the best situation to be in. Everyone has been really understanding and we are really grateful for that.”

GWR said people had been more likely to drive than use the replacement bus if they were commuting between Chippenham and Swindon or vice versa, with those commuting further down the line and to London more likely to use the buses to get them to functioning rail stations.

However there have been no reports of drivers noticing any increased difficulty in parking in the town this week.

The electrification works had to be pushed back a couple of years ago after Network Rail realised that they would have to replace the drainage culvert. Although money has had to be found in the budget, the company says the project as a whole is still on track.

“We mobilised at 10pm on Sunday night to remove the existing culvert within the first ten hours,” site manager Dan Parks said. “We then laid a base and prepared an eight metre area either side and everything has been reinstated in just 39-and-a-half hours. The next step for us is to reinstate the tracks ready for the handover and then we will have another eight-six weeks to complete inlet and outlet works, but we are really pleased with how it has gone so far.”

Although the railway line is due to reopen and services return to normal on Monday, commuters are still advised to check before they travel on or the 24-hour help line on 03457 114141.