TRAINS from Feltham to central London will be suspended until next week but a full service is unlikely to resume on the line until next year.
A rail bridge across the River Crane collapsed on Sunday following heavy rain, causing chaos for commuters using the London Waterloo line.
Buses are replacing trains in both directions between Feltham and Twickenham but South West Trains said warned commuters it would add at least 45 minutes to their journeys and many have complained about long queues at both stations.
Network Rail hopes to have some service running from Feltham by next week but work to repair the bridge fully is expected to take several weeks – causing delays until 2010.
A rail engineer who works on London Underground and has seen the damage to the bridge over the River Crane said: "This sort of severe structural damage is not something you can just prop up and hope for the best. That bridge looks very dangerous to me and it could easily be four to six weeks to make it properly safe."
The 100-year-old bridge on the southern edge of Hounslow Heath was damaged after heavy rainfall caused the river to swell. The increased speed and turbulence of the river washed away some of the foundations bridge, damaging the main arch, and causing sections to collapse into the river.
A spokesman for Network Rail said: "The line which runs through Feltham is a particularly busy part of London’s railway network so it is important to get trains running as quickly as possible.
"We are working on a temporary solution to enable trains to start running again which we hope to have in place next week. Work to repair the original structure will then take place and is expected to take a number of weeks to complete."
Your travel options - page 2
YOUR TRAVEL OPTIONS
All trains between Feltham and Waterloo are cancelled.
Buses are replacing trains between Twickenham, Whitton and Feltham. Buses will be running every 5 minutes (every 10 minutes between 05:00 and 06:30, and between 20:05 and 00:25 (from Feltham) / 00:55 (from Twickenham)).
Alternatively, customers can take bus routes H25, H26, 90, 285 or 490 to Hatton Cross underground station then Piccadilly Line trains to central London.
Trains running from Waterloo to Waterloo all the way around the Hounslow Loop (both directions) are running as normal. This means that stations on the Hounslow Loop (Hounslow – Isleworth – Syon Lane – Brentford – Kew Bridge – Chiswick – Barnes Bridge) will therefore receive only a half-hourly service.
Passengers travelling from Hounslow loop stations to Feltham will need to change to shuttle buses at Twickenham or to route 235 at Isleworth station.
Passengers travelling from Hounslow loop stations to Ashford or Staines will need to change to shuttle buses at Twickenham or to route 235 at Isleworth station then to trains at Feltham.
Passengers travelling from Hounslow loop stations to stations between Feltham and Reading or Feltham and Windsor will need to change to shuttle buses at Twickenham or to bus route 235 at Isleworth station then to these trains at Feltham. Passengers for Chertsey, Addlestone and Weybridge will also need to travel by these services and change again at Staines.
First Great Western trains are accepting South West Trains tickets between London and Reading/Windsor.
London Buses are accepting South West Trains tickets between Feltham, Osterley and Hounslow.
London Underground are accepting South West Trains tickets between Osterley, Richmond and Central London, or any reasonable alternative route.
Trains are running as normal between Feltham and Reading and Feltham and Windsor & Eton Riverside.
Your reactions - see page 3
To The Chronicle:
"I have never seen anything like the chaos this morning. It normally takes me an hour and 10 minutes to get to work – today I was travelling for almost three hours."
Gary Crawford, Hanworth Road, Feltham
"It's ridiculous. A bit of rain and this whole country falls apart. I've got no other option but to wait for these buses – it looks like I could be in for a nightmare few weeks."
Nick Whitman, Westmacott Drive, Feltham
"Bridge collapse at Feltham = unpleasantly full and slow train into work. Oh and a screaming baby."
"Ugh. bridge collapse at feltham train station has totally ruined my journey home! in fact its ruined my journey for the whole week!"
"Line collapse at Feltham = rammed Southwest train this a.m. Endured 4 armpits up my left nostril & a man coughing on my face."
"290 from ashford to twickenham for me saturday i think, thank god i got a lift home from epsom late at night..."