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28.03.14

Crossrail and Reading

I know Reading well, having once lived there and been transport reporter on the local paper, and can confirm that Crossrail has been a subject of debate in the town for many years.

Many businesses, councillors and those with a stake in local pride thought it obvious that the western terminus of Crossrail should be extended from Maidenhead, but it is not just as simple as that. Crossrail is basically a metro-style stopping service, frequent, but not fast – not compared to the existing fast services into Paddington.

There had long been worries about the effect Crossrail and a possible extension would have on Reading’s fast access into London.

As Reading East MP Rob Wilson put it: “The distance and number of stops between Reading and London mean that Crossrail could offer an inappropriate service for Reading’s rail users without the right planning under current proposals. Crossrail’s estimated journey times suggested that it could take around an hour to get from Reading to London Paddington than under the fastest mainline rail services already running (30 minutes) – which is a 100% increase in equivalent journey time.  In addition, Crossrail will use metro-style trains similar to those used on the London Underground and Overground, which typically lack toilets, catering facilities or seats with facilities from which commuters can work.

“Hour-long journeys on inappropriate trains will not be attractive to commuters and would be a waste of track capacity.”

He is among those pressing for a few Crossrail trains every hour to be semi-fast services, stopping at only the main conurbation between Reading and London. These will benefit passengers and offer welcome competition with First Great Western services into Paddington, he says.

He calls the plans ‘Crossrail Phase 2’ and says rail minister Stephen Hammond has confirmed in a letter that the DfT has ordered a study into constructing new loops to allow overtaking, to be published in October.

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