Aerial view of Reading rail line

Historic railway bridge in Reading set to be replaced

In order to allow trains to run at full speed once more, Network Rail is set to replace a historic railway bridge in Reading.

The Huntley and Palmers Bridge dates back to the late 1800s and runs on top of a former railway tunnel used by steam trains to transport biscuits from the famous Reading company.

This area it crosses is affectionally known as the ‘Biscuit Tunnel’ locally. In 2015, nearly 40 years after the closure of the Huntley and Palmers factory, the tunnel was reopened as a pedestrian and cycle path.

Network Rail will renew the bridge on the weekend of March 20-21, 2021.

It will see a weekend closure to South Western Railway (SWR), Great Western Railway (GWR) and CrossCountry services.

However, once complete, the new bridge will allow services to run at full speed again, helping minimise delays and speed up passenger journeys along the route.

Wessex Route Director for Network Rail, Mark Killick, said: “Replacing the Huntley and Palmers bridge will improve journeys for our passengers and protect pedestrians and cyclists. 

“By rebuilding the bridge, we will provide a more reliable railway for many years to come, keeping passengers moving between Reading and Earley.

“We know the history of the bridge is important and we’ve worked closely with Reading Borough Council to develop a design that retains the heritage of the structure.”

“We’re very grateful to our passengers for their patience and to the local community while we carry out this work.”

Initially, the bridge and tunnel structure lifted into place will look modern. However, Network Rail have outlined plans to add a brick façade to the tunnel entrance at a later stage, in order to retain the initial look and feel of the original bridge.

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