A bridge too far? Rail improvement work delays anger Sherston and Luckington residents

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Parish councillor John Buckley at the closed bridge south of Luckington. Parish councillor John Buckley at the closed bridge south of Luckington.

WEEKS of delays in upgrading rail bridges in the Luckington area have hit businesses and left roads a potholed, flooded mess say residents.

Luckington and Sherston parish councils have both urged Network Rail to get a move on with work to upgrade bridges over Pig Lane, the Fosse Way and the B4040 as part of the £5 billon electrification programme.

The roads have been closed for the past six months and were due to re-open in December.

But the discovery of bats at one and a defective replacement bridge at the B4040 have contributed to the delays and left local people counting the cost of damaged wheels and lost business.

Sherston council chairman John Matthews said this week that there had been rumours about set backs before Christmas, but they were still in the dark in spite of meetings and talks with officials.

“We accept that it is for the greater good, but we don’t feel they are paying much attention to us.”

John Buckley, from Luckington Parish Council said before Christmas there had been a site meeting with officials from Network Rail at Luckington Lane. After that it emerged that the final finish date was likely to be in February.

In the meantime verges and drainage channels had been obliterated by heavy vehicle traffic and even contractors’ trucks had been seen using lanes they should not. As a result the flooding was worse because the water had no way of flowing down into the ditches.

“It is pretty awful,” he told the Standard. “They have taken much longer than they said. The roads are in an appalling state.”

Some roads were only passable using 4x4s at times.

At the Old Royal Ship pub staff said passing trade was down and customers were put off because they had to use damage roads or make a long diversion. “It is dangerous going down those roads" said one bar worker.

“People are saying it takes them an extra three quarters of an hour to get to us and they are ringing for directions.”

“We’re not getting any passing trade at all unless someone is lost and looking for somewhere else.”

Network Rail was contacted by the Standard last week, but has yet to respond.

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