OFFICE worker Rachel Kirk has won a battle in her campaign to have the Bristol Street underpass kept open for longer so women can feel safer on the walk to and from work.

As the Adver reported in August, the 24-year-old made the call because of an incident where she was followed and harassed on her way home from her late shift after the link was shut.

Now Swindon Borough Council has agreed to open the underpass for longer to provide a safe well-lit passage from the Outlet Village to the Railway Village in the town centre. In a statement on social media the council said: “You may have seen recently in the local media that some members of the public have been calling for the Bristol Street underpass to be opened for longer so that pedestrians can continue to use it late at night and early in the morning.

“Currently the underpass, which links Swindon Designer Outlet with the Railway Village, is open from 7am until 9pm. We’re pleased to report that from Monday December 6 our security team will open up the underpass for an additional four hours from 5am until 11pm.”

And the authority has said it will look to use some of the £500,000 Safer Streets funding that it received from the Government to make improvements to lighting and CCTV in the passage.

Coun Cathy Martyn, cabinet member for housing and public safety, said: “No one should fear for their safety while walking anywhere in the borough and I was particularly concerned to hear of the issues raised by people who frequently use the Bristol Street underpass.

“As a council we have an important role to play in ensuring that neighbourhoods are safe for local people.

She added: “I hope the extension of the underpass’s opening hours and the plans to improve the lighting and security will give some reassurance to people that we do take their safety extremely seriously and we will take action where we can.”

Rachel started a petition for the underpass to be open 24 hours a day after being harassed on a longer walk home from work when a drunk man put his arm around her and tried to chat her up. She said without the underpass her route was badly-lit and unnerving.

She was pleased with the announcement. “It’s great that the council have realised the importance of increasing the opening hours of the underpass, making people’s journeys across Swindon safer and quicker.

But she added: “Although this is a step in the right direction, the question still remains as to whether the increased opening hours extend to weekends, and what the next steps are to making the underpass open 24/7.”