RAIL passengers face a fresh round of disruption with engineering work set to close the line through Malvern and Ledbury at weekends.

Network Rail plans to shut the bridge over the River Severn at Worcester for eight weekends, starting on January 31, to re-waterproof it and renew the track.

The company said the work was necessary to ensure the smooth running of trains on the track and make the bridge structurally sound. Central Trains plans to run buses at hourly intervals beginning at 7.27am, while the repairs take place.

Train services have come in for criticism over recent months. Problems include the early termination of services which then put travellers on buses provided by train companies.

Jackie Carey, of Malvern, who has been fronting a campaign to improve train services in the area, said she did not think using buses would be popular.

"When they put buses on for alternative transport they're always less direct and are not as comfortable," she said. "I would think it's going to be an inconvenience. If people wanted to take a bus, they would go to the bus station and get one."

A spate of incidents involving trains arriving late and being cancelled prompted Mrs Carey to set up a Malvern/Ledbury Rail Users Group to press for improved services.

The Malvern Gazette has launched its 'Not Getting There' campaign in support of her efforts.

The Gazette is now trying to set up a public meeting, to be held at Malvern Girls' College at a date to be agreed in February. It has written to Central Trains to invite a representative of the company to attend.