Cotswold Line trains will only be able to operate to and from Oxford until late April, due to the extent of repairs needed to a bridge over the River Thames south of Oxford.
Nework Rail announced this afternoon that the line between Oxford and Didcot is expected to remain closed until at least Sunday, April 23.
Work to stabilise Nuneham Viaduct, pictured, which crosses the river between Radley and Culham stations, was already under way but monitoring equipment detected increasingly significant movements of the structure in recent days, prompting the decision on Monday morning to close the bridge to trains.
Passengers are advised to check train times before setting out to a station.
GWR will run a limited number of through trains each day between London Paddington, Worcester and Hereford during the closure, using the route via Stroud. The services operating on weekdays are as follows – for weekend journeys check online journey planners.
- The 05.23 from Hereford to Paddington will be diverted after departing from Worcester Shrub Hill at 06.10, arriving at Reading at 07.54 and Paddington at 08.24.
- The existing 07.24 from Worcester Shrub Hill to Paddington, via the Stroud route, arriving at Reading at 09.32 and Paddington at 10.00.
- The 15.18 from Hereford to Paddington will be diverted after departing from Worcester Shrub Hill at 16.13, arriving at Reading at 17.57 and Paddington at 18. 29.
- The 19.45 from Great Malvern to Paddington will be diverted after departing from Worcester Shrub Hill at 20.02, arriving at Reading at 21.54 and Paddington at 22. 24.
Towards Worcester & Hereford
- The existing 05.35 from Paddington to Worcester Shrub Hill via Stroud, arriving at Shrub Hill at 07.58.
- The 15.20 from Paddington to Worcester Foregate Street will be diverted via the Stroud route, arriving at Shrub Hill at 17.35 and Foregate Street at 17.41.
- The 17.34 from Paddington to Hereford will be diverted via Stroud, calling at Worcester Shrub Hill at 19.43, Foregate Street at 19.46, Great Malvern at 19,57 and arriving at Hereford at 20. 26.
- The existing 19.28 from Paddington to Worcester Shrub Hill, via the Stroud route, arriving at Shrub Hill at 22. 08.
Passengers travelling to and from London can also use GWR tickets on a number of alternative routes to travel to and from London, as follows:
- Chiltern Railways trains between Oxford and London Marylebone
- West Midlands Railway and Avanti West Coast trains between Worcester, Birmingham and London Euston
- GWR and CrossCountry services between Worcester and Cheltenham or Bristol Parkway to reach London Paddington
- Passengers between Hereford and London can use Transport for Wales trains between Hereford and Newport, to connect with GWR services to and from London Paddington.
Rail replacement buses are operating between Oxford and Didcot Parkway and GWR tickets are also being accepted on Thames Travel bus routes between Oxford and Didcot and Stagecoach buses between Oxford and Swindon.
CrossCountry Trains services will operate north of Oxford and between Didcot and the South Coast during the closure.
Click here for updates on the GWR website.
David Davidson, Network Rail’s interim Western route director, said: “We are sorry for the disruption this has caused for passengers and advise them to continue to check before they travel.
“Safety is our top priority and our engineers our now working round the clock to identify what can be done to make this viaduct safe for passenger and freight trains to run again.
“We are disappointed that the work we’ve done so far hasn’t been successful and our efforts haven’t been helped by the wettest March in over 30 years. We will continue to provide updates as we work to reopen the line as quickly and as safely as possible.”
GWR managing director Mark Hopwood said: “This is a significant route for us and our customers and we are exploring all avenues to be able to bolster services between Oxford and London.
“To help keep customers on the move we’ve mobilised staff to assist at key locations. We’re also looking at what we can do in the longer term, including the possibility of running GWR trains on alternative routes between Oxford and London to support other train operators’ services.”