A £13 million scheme to improve access to an upgraded Reading Station has taken an important step forward, Local Transport Minister, Norman Baker, announced today (16 December 2010).
The Department for Transport is prepared to invest £9.6 million towards improving access to the station - one of the most critical rail hubs in Britain.
This follows work by Reading Borough Council to reduce scheme costs - resulting in a saving of 36%, or £5.4 million for the taxpayer - and increase contributions from private developers. The council will now invite tenders for the works with a view to seeking final approval from the department in the summer of 2011.
The scheme, which includes 2 new multi-modal interchanges as well as highway improvements, will make it easier for road users, bus passengers, pedestrians and cyclists to access the station. The funding comes in addition to a £850 million rebuilding programme for the station - allowing significant improvements to train services, including electrification of the line between London and Oxford and Newbury.
Norman Baker MP said:
The government is committed to delivering major transport improvements which will help economic growth and cut carbon so I am pleased to announce that we are prepared to invest £9.6 million towards these improvements and further encourage travel by rail.
The scheme will improve access to the station, allowing passengers to enjoy the full benefits being delivered by the wider programme of works to redevelop Reading station and the associated significant improvement in train services.
The department has worked closely with Reading Borough Council to encourage it to review the costs, benefits and scope of the project. Reading has met this challenge by reducing the overall cost of the scheme by £3.2 million and the Department’s contribution by £5.4 million. This has set an excellent example for other local authorities to follow.
Following a further review of the scheme by the council, the improvements include:
- new multi-modal interchanges including direct access to the new northern and south-western station entrances
- safe, secure and step-free pedestrian access
- bus priority measures
- new and improved walking and cycling routes to the new interchanges
- significantly increased secure cycle parking provision
- a new junction providing access to the new northern entrance
Today’s announcement grants the Reading station highway improvements a re-confirmed “Conditional Approval” following a review by Reading Borough Council of the scope, costs and benefits of the scheme. This review was undertaken in the light of the department’s statement “Investment in Local Major Transport Schemes” published in October 2010.
The next stage of the approval process for these works will be Full Approval once the council has completed a tendering exercise.
The works are being led by Reading Borough Council in co-ordination with Network Rail.
The project previously approved in March 2010 was a £16.4 million package of highway improvements to which the previous government had allocated up to £15 million. Following October’s Spending Review, the department has encouraged the council to review the scheme to reduce the department’s contribution and increase the local contribution.
Reading’s revised proposals are based on a package of works totalling £13.2 million. Planned improvements at the junctions of Portman Road/Oxford Road and Caversham Road/Richfield Avenue will now be deferred until a later date and will be funded from other sources.
The council has also increased the local funding contribution from £1.4 million to £3.6 million. This contribution is coming from private developers.
If full approval is granted next year, the council expects work to start in summer 2011 and complete by autumn 2013.
The project, to rebuild and enlarge the station, is led by Network Rail under a remit issued by the Department. It involves the provision of additional platforms, along with a new viaduct and underpasses to remove a number of conflicting train movements which occur at present. The design is compatible with the electrification of the Great Western Main Line (GWML) between Paddington and Oxford/ Newbury. A new train care depot is also being constructed to accommodate both diesel and electric trains. The new station is designed to manage twice the present levels of business and the whole scheme is planned for completion by 2016. The total cost is £850 million.
Work continues to determine the extent to which further electrification of the GWML may take place and the type of intercity express trains that will be required to replace the present High Speed diesel units. Reading station will enable additional long distance, regional and local train services to be provided, resulting from this exercise.