A PLAN to close the A417 between Wantage and Faringdon from September to December this year will be discussed at a public meeting on Thursday.

Network Rail staff will answer questions and discuss potential diversion routes at Faringdon’s Corn Exchange from 4pm to 7pm.

The firm wants to rebuild Challow Station road bridge as part of its £1bn electrification project of main rail routes in the area.

Residents and councillors have hit out against the road closure, which they say will make life difficult and potentially harm businesses in both towns.

More than 800 people have signed an online protest petition started by Faringdon town councillor Alex Meredith.

Senior programme manager Nigel Fenn said: “Electrification will bring huge benefits to the region but we recognise that some of the work will cause disruption to those who live or work near the railway.

“We thank people in advance for their patience as we continue our plans to build a better railway for the Thames Valley and the South West.

“This is an exciting time for the Great Western main line as we upgrade and electrify the route to transform our diesel railway into one of the most modern in Europe, providing more seats, and cleaner and quieter trains.”

A second drop-in-session will be held with details to be released as soon as they are confirmed.

Network Rail has set up a 24-hour helpline on 08457 114141 about the work.

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