Swindon underpass to stay open longer after woman's safety campaign

  • Watch: Caron Bell live from the underpass following the council's decision to extend its opening hours.

A woman has successfully campaigned for an underpass in Swindon to extend its opening hours after she was harassed walking through the town.

Like many other women, Rachel Kirk uses the Bristol Street underpass to get to and from work but its limited opening hours meant she was often forced to walk a longer and more unsafe way home after finishing shifts.

Initially, the route closed at 9pm - and on some days, even earlier.

She said her experience while taking the longer route home - which involved a man following her and putting his arms around her - made her want to campaign to keep the underpass open all hours of the day.

After Rachel's petition, which received almost 500 signatures, the underpass is now open from 5am until 11pm.

  • Watch: Victoria Davies' report during Rachel's campaign.

Rachel told ITV News West Country she hoped this will bring about "positive change".

"It's going to make people feel safer when walking to a night out when walking to work and just going about their day," she said.

"The hours are fantastic now. 5am covers all sorts of morning commutes and then from up until 11pm it covers it if people want to go out for a late dinner and then come back."

Swindon Borough Council have also pledged to improve lighting and security in the underpass.

A spokesperson from the authority added: “As a council, we have an important role to play in ensuring that neighbourhoods are safe for local people.

"I hope the extension of the underpass’s opening hours and the plans to improve the lighting and security will give some reassurance to people that we do take their safety extremely seriously and we will take action where we can.”