NETWORK Rail, as we reveal today, is to close the lines around Swindon next weekend to allow signalling work.

This is hardly good news for people who were hoping to do some Christmas shopping in London before Oxford Street comes to its traditional festive standstill.

For that matter, nobody who intended travelling by train to or from Swindon in either direction will be delighted at the tidings.

However, whatever we feel and whatever the reasons for Network Rail’s timing, a fait accompli has been presented.

There is no point in complaining about the closure as no amount of complaining will change the firm’s plan, but at least those affected have been given a little over a week’s notice.

The trains to and from Swindon will be replaced by bus services. As anybody who has used one of these services before knows, they generally reach their stated destination, but rather more slowly than the trains they replace.

They are also subject to the same traffic problems as every other vehicle on our roads, especially during busy periods.

We suggest that the best course of action for anybody who was planning to travel by train during the period in question is to postpone their journey, thereby saving themselves from unnecessary aggravation.

Under certain circumstances, there’s a lot to be said for relaxing at home.

For those who really have no alternative but to travel, now is the time to find out about the buses’ schedules and calculate some new departure and arrival times. Again, this is the best way of dodging a potential deluge of stress and misery.