THE New Year got off to a slow start for commuters in the Cotswolds after a landslide brought train services in the district to a standstill.

Passengers were faced with lengthy delays and bus replacement services after a collapsed embankment near Stonehouse caused major problems for trains passing through Kemble Station on the Swindon to Gloucester line.

The landslide, which happened in the early hours of Thursday, January 2, caused the eastwardly line to be completely closed for the whole day.

A spokesman for Network Rail said: “Engineers had assessed the site and it was found to be more serious than at first thought. The line needed to be closed for at least 48 hours.

“Engineers attempted to move as much of the soil heap as possible to allow trains to pass through at slow speed. They needed to further assess the damage and then needed to work through the night to restore the embankment.”

Buses replaced trains travelling from Gloucester to Swindon, adding approximately an extra 45 minutes to the normal 50 minute journey.

Passengers took to social networking sites to vent their frustration at First Great Western for the services being delayed and cancelled.

One user wrote a sarcastic message that read: “The 11am train from Stonehouse didn’t arrive. Nor did the bus replacement service. Well done team, keep up the good work.”

The line was reopened ahead of schedule at approximately 6am on Friday, January 3.