I am pleased to inform the House that following agreement with the Mayor of London, my co-sponsor on the Crossrail project, it is now intended that Crossrail services will be extended to serve Reading from 2019. This marks a change in Crossrail’s western terminus, which was previously Maidenhead.
My department has worked closely with Transport for London, Crossrail Limited and Network Rail to determine the best use of capacity on the Great Western line. This work has considered how to maximise capacity on the route whilst ensuring Crossrail services can operate efficiently enabling the best possible overall mix of passenger and freight services on this highly congested part of the national rail network.
The decision to extend Crossrail services to Reading will achieve this while also offering greater flexibility for future timetabled services. Once Crossrail services begin across the whole line in 2019, passengers travelling to London from Reading and the other Thames Valley stations will be able to travel to more destinations across London without the need to change at Paddington.
Once operational, Crossrail services are expected to serve Maidenhead on a 4 trains per hour basis as originally planned, with 2 of these services continuing to Reading via Twyford.
In addition, the planned future Great Western franchise service pattern from Reading to London will not change. Twice hourly semi-fast services and existing fast mainline services will continue, calling at the same stations as today.
Passengers will continue to benefit from the service frequency enjoyed today between Reading and Hayes & Harlington, maintaining connectivity with Heathrow and to Ealing Broadway, for interchanges with the Central and District lines.
The Reading extension will also generate some cost savings from reduced infrastructure enhancements at Maidenhead and Slough, and only minor works will be required at Twyford and Reading to accommodate Crossrail services.
When fully operational, Crossrail will boost London’s rail-based capacity by 10%, connecting Reading and Heathrow in the west and Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, through 21 kilometres of newly built twin tunnels under central London. Transport for London will run Crossrail as part of its integrated transport services.