A NEW footbridge over the railway line in Stroud is now open to the public.

Network Rail has replaced two pedestrian crossings at Downfield Road and Beards Lane with a new bridge at Central Road.

It says the bridge, which will be used by hundreds of pupils from Archway, Marling and Stroud High School, will provide safer access.

Network Rail added that the work was part of a drive to improve safety ahead of the upgrade of the Kemble to Swindon line, which will see the speed and frequency of trains increase.

Patrick Hallgate, route managing director for Network Rail Western, said: “Our focus on level crossings means that our railway is safer than ever before.

“Successfully closing a crossing isn’t always a straightforward process.

“I thank our local authorities, landowners and the public for the help they have given us at Stroud and across the region to meet this target and ask for their support as we look to continue the closure programme and improve safety further still.”

The new bridge has not been well received by some Central Road residents who say those using the structure will be able to see into back gardens and homes.

Network Rail says privacy screens will mitigate these concerns.