Survival guide to summer railway disruption

Train services between Theale and Westbury are being seriously disrupted throughout the summer and autumn due to work required to electrify the route between Reading and Newbury.

Penny Post strongly advises that you…

• Bookmark the dedicated page on GWR‘s website and check it regularly for updates.
• Keep in touch with GWR via its Twitter or Facebook Messenger services.
• Join the Bedwyn Train Passenger Group, which has been responsible for helping agree the times of replacement bus services, which can help raise matters of concern and which provides regular email updates with relevant information. Please email to be added to BTPG’s list.

The sections below (blue headings) include some topical updates which have been kindly supplied by Steve Smith of the Bedwyn Trains Passenger Group. General information about the closures (pink headings) is supplied lower down.

Thursday 26 July

If you are travelling on South West Trains during these disruptions, please note that on Thursday 26th July SWT staff are taking strike action. Trains will be running but subject to a revised timetable. Please check your journey details in advance and be prepared for delays.

During the GWR line closures, GWR season tickets are valid on SWT from Andover, Grateley, Whitchurch and Basingstoke.

The replacement bus services from Bedwyn

The 0625 should be running better now. Last week was awful with it frequently failing to turn up. However, GWR agreed to switch the operator and took on board that this is the most critical bus of the morning. Please email if you are still having any difficulties.

The 0435 bus from Bedwyn  is still showing on some systems as 0440. In fact it departs at 0435, arriving Newbury 0524. There is then a bus from Newbury (departing 0530) to Didcot Parkway (arriving 0605) connecting with the 0614 train to Paddington (arriving 0627).

Good-ish news for the school holidays

With the start of the school holidays there will be more buses available to operate the replacement service. Until this week GWR was competing with the school runs for spare buses. This involved bringing buses and drivers down from as far away as Scotland. So, if you saw a Loch Ness Monster excursion coach pulling into the station, don’t worry – you weren’t seeing things.

Line closure dates and information

As of Monday 9 July, the next published dates of track work are:

Monday 9 to Thursday 12 July
Monday 16 July to Sunday 5 August

During this time GWR advises:

• Various buses will replace trains from stations between Westbury and Theale (see details below and on GWR’s site.) Journey times will be longer than usual.
• Parking spaces at stations will be restricted due to equipment needing to be stored there. See GWR’s site (scroll down) suggestions for alternative parking
• Long-distance services from London to the West of England will continue to run but on a different route. Journey times will be longer than usual.
• Train/bus times may be subject to change at short notice – we recommend you check carefully here before travelling. Services the day before or after any closures may also be disrupted, delayed or diverted.
• Cancelling or changing a ticket is possible for some ticket types in advance of travel.
• You may be able to get a refund or compensation for delays to your journey.
• Off-peak and Super Off-peak tickets are valid outside peak travel hours – learn more about our ticket types.
• If you need help, GWR are available 24/7 on Twitter You can also contact them on Facebook Messenger.
• Printable timetables can be downloaded from the GWR train times page.

Replacement Services

Please note that the information may be subject to change. Please visit GWR’s dedicated page for up-to-date inf0rmation.

The Bedwyn Train Passenger Group advises that, for Paddington commuters, the most practical route is by bus from Bedwyn (departs 06:25) calling also at Hungerford (06:40), then direct to Reading to connect with the 07:45 train at Reading, arriving at Paddington at 08:11. The recommended return journey is the 18:30 from Paddington, arriving Reading at 18:55, with the replacement bus departing at 19:08 and arriving at Hungerford at 20:03 and at Bedwyn at 20:18.

Details of other services as they are currently (as per GWR’s website on Sunday 8 July) arranged are as follows.

Bedwyn/Newbury to Reading (peak hours) Non-stop after Newbury, 55-65 minutes from Newbury. One bus will also run to Reading from Bedwyn at 06:25, calling at Hungerford only – more more details, see above.
Newbury to Didcot Parkway (peak hours, weekdays only) Non-stop, 35-40 minutes
Bedwyn/Newbury to Theale Calling at all intermediate stations. 45-50 minutes from Newbury
Thatcham to Reading (peak hours, weekdays only) Non-stop, 40-45 minutes
Westbury to Chippenham (off-peak hours) Calling at Trowbridge and Melksham. 55 minutes
Pewsey to Swindon Non-stop, 45-55 minutes
Pewsey to Westbury (peak hours, weekdays only) Non-stop, 50 minutes
Pewsey to Newbury (weekdays only) 07:30 one bus from Pewsey to Newbury (calling at Hungerford – set down only). 17:20 one bus from Newbury to Pewsey (calling at Hungerford – pick up only at 17:40)


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Why are trains being disrupted?

If you have been affected by the disruption to local train services here are some insights into the work being done in preparation for electrification and why it is needed.

The videos below come from the @networkrailwest twitter feed and the above photo of Thatcham platform being extended to accommodate the new, longer electric trains was posted on twitter by Network Rail Western on 13 March.

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Covering: Newbury, Thatcham, Hungerford, Marlborough, Wantage, Lambourn, Compton, Swindon & Theale