Network Rail sets out plans

for bigger, better railway in the Thames Valley


22 Mar 2013

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx All change in Reading - Easter 2013


xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Work at Reading 18 March 2013




Passengers in Reading are being asked to prepare themselves for 10 days of changes to train services as their new station arrives this Easter.

From Friday 29th March to Sunday 7th April, there is planned disruption to train services,

with passengers being urged to check before they travel.


From Tuesday 2nd April, commuters will be able to use the station's four new platforms, two new entrances

and a spectacular new link bridge for the first time.



Bill Henry, Network Rail programe director, said:


“We realise it will be an inconvenience to passengers to plan alternative routes

while we undertake the most ambitious part of this massive project to date.


If there was any other way that we could deliver the improvements we would do it.


But passengers should understand that during the 10 days of disruption to train services

we plan to achieve as much as we could in 20 weekends of work.


“By compressing together the work we need to do we are on target to finish the upgrades one year ahead of schedule in 2015.


This Easter is an historic one at Reading – as it will see the wonderful new parts of the station being opened to the public for the first time.


It will also see the biggest commissioning of new track, signalling and infrastructure works at one time in the history of Network Rail.

We have a huge task ahead of us, but all of this is only possible through the patience of the travelling public and for that I would like to thank them.”


During the ten-day period, the platforms that trains arrive into and depart from will change,

and passengers are being asked to check which platform their trains will depart from on arrival at the station.

First Great Western will have staff on hand to help customers while they get used to the changes.



First Great Western managing director, Mark Hopwood, said:


“The works taking place over Easter are the most extensive phase of the upgrade scheme to date.

Network Rail is doing a fantastic job improving Reading station and we're looking forward to unveiling the latest phase

in the redevelopment of our station to customers after Easter.


“We have sought to minimise disruption to our customers' journeys as far as possible as Network Rail carries out these essential works,

which will mean improved journeys for thousands of rail passengers.


However, many journeys will be affected and I'd encourage anyone travelling through Reading and surrounding stations

during this period to check their journeys before they travel.”


After the first phase of the new station opens on 2nd April, there will be around 12 months of further improvement works.

These will include the demolition of the old link bridge and replacing old canopies and platforms,

bringing them up to the standard of the new parts of the station.


By spring 2014, the entire station upgrade will be complete, with the whole project,

including a new viaduct to unblock the bottleneck on the railway, remaining on course to be finished in 2015 – one year ahead of schedule.


Passengers and the public are also set to benefit from work Reading Borough Council

is doing to improve the areas outside the station's two new entrances.



Tony Page, Reading Borough Council's lead councillor for regeneration, transport and planning, said:


"When complete the council's new interchanges, to the north and the south of the station,

will markedly enhance the environment in and around the station,

providing much improved facilities for pedestrians, cyclists and bus and taxi passengers.


“The opening of the newly re-furbished subway underneath the station creates a route right into the town centre

for people approaching the station from the northern side.


For the tens of thousands of passengers, who use Reading station every day, including a great many Reading residents of course,

the new station will be a huge improvement."


The station upgrades are just one 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,

the widening of Cow Lane, new signalling to improve reliability


and the introduction of overhead electrical lines to allow new state-of-the-art electric trains to run.



xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx The Transfer Bridge nearing completion









Laying the new floor on the Transfer Bridge at Reading



RVR Historical Map


        Five-year plan continues biggest investment in infrastructure since the Victorian era

        £9bn investment includes electrification of the Great Western main line, paving the way for new trains and more seats


Network Rail today committed to continue the biggest investment in the Thames Valley's railway since the Victorian era,

reducing costs and delivering more passengers on time than ever before –

but also warned that tough choices need to be made if the industry is to meet these competing challenges.

The company's strategic business plan for the Western route, which runs from Paddington to South Wales

and the south-west of England via the Thames Valley, has been submitted to the Office of Rail Regulation.


Designed to respond to and cater for continuing growth in passenger numbers,

the plan sets out the biggest programme of improvements to the

Great Western main line since it was built 175 years ago.

The number of passengers using the Great Western main line is now more than 50m a year,

following a decade in which passenger numbers grew by 45 per cent.


This growth has led to severe overcrowding at the busiest times of day on many trains between London and the Thames Valley,

with trains between Reading and the capital accounting for six of the 10 most overcrowded rail journeys in Britain.

To meet this challenge, and to provide the extra capacity needed to cater for a

further 51 per cent predicted increase in passengers in the period up to 2030,


Network Rail and rail industry partners will deliver a programme of

electrification, signalling upgrades and new, longer trains over the 2014-19 period.


This programme will contribute to a wider strategy for London's major rail arteries, which will deliver 20 per cent more seats

into the capital during the busy morning peak.


Patrick Hallgate, Network Rail route managing director, said:


“This programme of investment will deliver the biggest investment in the Great Western main line since it was built 175 years ago.


"Managing what is essentially a Victorian railway is becoming increasingly difficult

and this programme of investment will bring it firmly into the 21st century.


"The improvements will deliver huge benefits to passengers

but there will inevitably be trade-offs which need to be made to deliver them.


"As the railway gets busier, the number of challenges increase

and it becomes more complex than ever

to run a reliable and cost-effective railway.


"As a result, we will increasingly have to balance the needs

to build and renew infrastructure, run trains on time and reduce costs.

“This plan will provide a bigger and better railway for passengers

and help support and drive economic growth across the Thames Valley.


"By the end of the decade, the Great Western main line will set the standard for 21st century rail travel in Britain

and provide the capacity we need to cater for the continued increase in the popularity of rail travel."


Reading Station

undergoing re-construction



The main schemes benefiting the Thames Valley are:



Network Rail is resignalling the Great Western main line ahead of electrification,

modernising equipment which dates back to the 1960s.

This work will be carried out in stages to minimise disruption.


The line between Paddington and Hayes has already been resignalled

and the railway in the Didcot area was resignalled in December 2012.


The line from West Drayton to Maidenhead will be resignalled in 2013,

Reading to Newbury in 2014 and Oxford in 2015.


By 2015, control of all signalling between London and Bristol

will be migrated to the Thames Valley signalling centre in Didcot.


This state-of-the-art facility will eventually control all signalling in the Western route

and contribute to a £250m annual saving across the railway in signalling costs

The four-year scheme, once completed, will help to boost the performance.


Around 25,000 minutes of delays on average each year on the Great Western main line

are potentially caused by problems with ageing signalling equipment.




By December 2016, Network Rail plans to electrify the railway from Maidenhead to Newbury and Oxford.


Electrification of the Great Western main line will pave the way for electric trains

which have more seats than the current diesel trains of the same length

and are able to accelerate and brake more quickly, speeding up journey times.

The new trains will be quicker, cleaner, quieter, smoother and more reliable than diesel trains.


They are cheaper to operate, require less maintenance

and have lower energy costs and carbon emissions than diesel trains.


They are also lighter and do less damage to the track,

helping to deliver a more reliable railway and reducing the need for track maintenance.


Andy Ring, Network Rail construction manager, at the new Reading Station development



Passengers across the Thames Valley and beyond will feel the full benefits of the £895m redevelopment

of the railway in Reading in 2015 when the project is complete.


This will relieve the biggest bottleneck on the Great Western main line.


There will be five new platforms at Reading and a new viaduct to take fast trains over those on slower lines

– this means faster, more reliable journeys for passengers.


The station will also have two new entrances providing better pedestrian links across the town,

as well as lifts and escalators to all platforms and a wider footbridge




Crossrail services will replace current Thames Valley inner suburban services (between Paddington to Maidenhead)

to deliver a high-frequency service from Maidenhead through new rail tunnels below central London, to Shenfield and Abbey Wood.


The service will offer the ability to travel direct to the West End, the City and Canary Wharf

without changing trains, reducing journey times and inconvenience

The new Crossrail services will be electrified, meaning trains will be quicker, cleaner, quieter, smoother and more reliable than diesel trains




RVR Historical Map



Network Rail is working with Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council to commission an Oxford station masterplan,

which will set out options for the redevelopment of the station. The aim is to deliver these improvements by 2019.


Passengers in the Oxford area are set to benefit from East-West Rail, which will reintroduce

direct passenger services from Oxford to Bletchley and Milton Keynes Central.


The line between Oxford and Leamington via Banbury is also set to be electrified

as well as the railway between Oxford and Bedford via Bicester Town and Bletchley



Evergreen III: Proposals by Chiltern to provide a new half-hourly London Marylebone to Oxford

through the construction of a new stretch of track between the Oxford to Bicester line and the Banbury to Marylebone line

just to the south of Bicester North station.


To accommodate predicted freight and passenger growth in the Oxford area, a number of schemes are being considered

including platform improvements, potential line speed improvements on the stopping lines between Reading and Didcot Parkway

and bi-directional signalling between Didcot and Banbury to increase capacity



Network Rail is also working on proposals to provide a new link from the Great Western main line to Heathrow terminal 5.

Potential line speed improvements on the Great Western main line between London and Bristol Parkway,

and from Reading to Basingstoke, are also being examined.


January 2013


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