Passengers at Reading now have a bigger, better station after Network Rail successfully completed the first part of an 11-day programme of upgrades over the Easter weekend.
More than 2,000 engineers from Network Rail and its team of contractors worked round the clock from late Thursday evening through to the early hours of Tuesday morning to carry out work which would ordinarily have taken around 20 full weekends.
As a result, the station now has two new entrances, four new platforms and a new 110-metre long, 30-metre-wide passenger bridge, with escalators and lifts providing step-free access to the new platforms.
Graham Denny, Network Rail senior programme manager, station works, said: “It’s gone absolutely brilliantly. We opened some of the improvements over the weekend and this morning we opened the new platforms, which were ready to receive the first train when it came in at 04:40.
“The station was ready to go for passengers, and the people we’ve had through already seem very pleased with the results.”
Reading station is used by 14m passengers annually, with numbers predicted to more than double to 30m by 2030. Station users will now have more space, easier access to platforms, and new passenger information screens.
The new platforms have two sections, A and B, to enable trains of varying lengths to occupy different ends of the platform at the same time, improving efficiency and timings for customers. Each now has escalator and step-free access to the new footbridge, with the existing platforms due to follow suit by 8 April.
Over the coming months, more platforms will be upgraded, with the station elements of the project due for final completion by February 2014. The programme as a whole will upgrade the station and unblock the bottleneck on the railway serving it – so trains won’t need to queue while approaching the station. All work is scheduled to be completed by 2015, a year ahead of schedule.