A VITAL link between Swindon town centre and the Designer Outlet will reopen today – but it’s still going to be shut to early morning commuters.

The Bristol Street tunnel, which links the Railway Village with offices, flats and shops on the former GWR Works, was shut last Friday by PwC. The accountancy firm was appointed as administrators after the tunnel’s owners Carillion and Churchward Plc went into liquidation this year.

Swindon Borough Council said it had arranged to open the underpass between 9am and 5.30pm. It is expected the tunnel will open from 7am daily in the future. 

Coun Dale Heenan, cabinet member for the town centre, added: “The sudden closure of the Bristol Street tunnel by PwC caused many complaints from residents and visitors about walking between the town centre, Railway Village and places like the Outlet Centre, STEAM Museum and the National Trust for work, shopping or because they live in the nearby apartments and houses.

“The council and site partners immediately saw that this needed to be dealt with as a priority. The council’s chief executive and I have been receiving daily updates, and I am pleased with the hard work and diligence of council officers throughout the week.

“Supported by site partners, documents from over 20 years ago have been found from the days of Railtrack regarding who has responsibility for the tunnel, and with that knowledge we have taken the necessary action to reopen it.”

Rodbourne councillor Jim Robbins welcomed the reopening. But he questioned why it could not be opened from 8.30am for those using it as a cut-through on their walk to work.

The Advertiser understands the council hopes to open the tunnel from 7am in the future. The later opening on Friday morning is to allow safety checks to be performed.