Passengers in Reading will enjoy more reliable and more comfortable train journeys thanks to a multi-million pound station improvement scheme.
The new station building, which was completed by Network Rail a year ahead of schedule and under budget, was officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen on Thursday 17 July.
The work, at one of the country’s busiest rail hubs, has transformed the station, providing two new entrances, five new platforms, a wider passenger footbridge and improved shopping facilities. New lifts and escalators have also been installed to improve access for all passengers.
Work is continuing on track improvements in the area to reduce delays and increase capacity on the network.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:
Reading is at the heart of our rail network and it is great news that passengers can now start to enjoy the benefits of a bigger, brighter and better station.
We are investing £38 billion over the next five years to give rail passengers the services they deserve, in order to secure lasting economic growth and generate jobs across the UK. The work at Reading Station is just one of a range of ambitious rail improvements that we will be delivering in the Thames Valley over the coming years so that passengers can benefit from a rail network fit for the 21st century.
Nearly 20 million passengers a year currently use Reading Station, and by 2030 this is expected to increase to 30 million. The improvements will help to accommodate this growth in passenger numbers.
The work at the station is part of a wider £895 million project to rebuild the railway around Reading and remove a major bottleneck on the network. Work is underway to build a new viaduct that will carry fast passenger services above the local rail lines, cutting delays and increasing capacity so that more services can run in future. The new viaduct is due to be completed next spring, also a year earlier than planned.
The government is investing £7.2 billion in upgrading and modernising the Great Western route, which includes electrification of the line from London to Bristol, including Newbury and Oxford, by 2016, and to Cardiff by 2017. This will pave the way for the introduction of a fleet of state-of-the-art trains on the line from 2017, bringing faster services and additional capacity as part of the Intercity Express Programme.
Earlier this year, the government also confirmed that Crossrail would be extended to Reading, providing greater choice and convenience for passengers travelling into London.