Reading railway upgrades get station showcase

Passengers had a chance to hear about Network Rail’s drive to transform Reading’s railway at a public exhibition in the station. Representatives from Network Rail, First Great Western, Reading Borough Council and some of the contractors who are delivering the works will be on hand from 7am until 6.30pm on both days, to answer commuters’ questions about the project.

Network Rail project director, Bill Henry, said: “We’re a third of the way through delivering the massive improvements which will unblock the bottleneck on the railway and provide a station fit for future – as passenger numbers in Reading are set to double by 2030.

“We continue to deliver the project on time and on budget, and are now reaching a crucial phase before the Olympics, as we have promised passengers no disruptive engineering works during the Games. At the station this summer, a spectacular new passenger bridge will start to take shape.

“The first section of the bridge will be moved into place in July, with the second and final pieces joined together during August and September. The new 30-metre wide structure, around three times bigger than the current bridge, will provide quick access to every platform and will be open in Spring 2013.

“We are also completing important upgrades to platforms before the Olympic engineering embargo begins. All three of the southern platforms in Reading which run into Waterloo will be open for business from this July. A new platform 4 was opened last January. This new platform was much longer than the existing platforms – allowing it to accommodate 12-carriage trains.

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“Platforms 5 and 6 have also been lengthened and are having new canopies installed. The existing southern platforms are being straightened out and extended so, when required, they can take 12 rather than the current eight-car trains. This will mean a lot more room for passengers in the future and we’ll be finished this work by mid-July.”

The station upgrades are just part of the Reading improvement scheme, which also includes the construction of a new train care depot, a viaduct to provide more room for trains, new signalling to improve reliability and the introduction of overhead electrical lines to allow new state-of-the-art electric trains to run.

Mark Hopwood, managing director, First Great Western, said: “We are now approaching one of the busiest stages of the Reading Redevelopment project and over the coming year customers will start to see real improvements to the station environment.

“Over the course of this project we’ve been working closely with Network Rail and other industry partners to keep our customers informed and minimise any inconvenience. We will continue to keep customers at the forefront of our minds while this important investment work continues.”

Tony Page, lead councillor for regeneration, transport and planning at Reading Borough Council, said: “Reading Borough Council’s plan to build new northern and southern interchanges to complement the new station has always been integral to the overall scheme. It is vital pedestrians, cyclists, bus passengers and motorists all have good links to the station and that is what the interchanges will provide.

“Initial works on the new interchanges began in April and I’m pleased to say the main works on the new interchanges begin next month, with a view to them both opening by April 2014. When complete the new station and the interchanges will provide the world class facilities our town deserves.”