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The Queen returns to open refurbished Reading station

Her Majesty the Queen has officially opened the redeveloped Reading station, which has been transformed in the last five years by Network Rail as part of its £895m project to rebuild the railway in the area. 

The refurbished station – completed a year ahead of schedule and within budget – now has two entrances, 15 platforms including five new platforms, new retail facilities and a new passenger bridge three times the size of the original footbridge. 

All the platforms at the station have new lifts, escalators and canopies making it more accessible, lighter and brighter and better able to accommodate the growing number of passengers, with 30m people forecast to use the station by 2030. 

This, however, was not the Queen’s first visit to Reading station. In 1989, Her Majesty opened the station following a £20m refurbishment. 

During her most recent visit, the Queen met key members of the engineering team behind the project and unveiled a plaque marking the official opening of the new and improved station.

The Queen unveils plate

Richard Parry-Jones, chairman of Network Rail, said: “We are extremely honoured that Her Majesty has officially opened the new Reading station. Thousands of men and women have worked on this project over the last five years and this is a proud moment for them and for the entire rail industry. 

“The scale of the new station here at Reading reflects the huge and growing demand for rail travel in Britain and it has already started to deliver a better experience for passengers.” 

The official opening of Reading station marks a significant milestone in the Reading Station Area Redevelopment Programme, with the overall set of enhancement works – including a new viaduct to the west of the station which will cut delays and increase capacity so more trains can run in future – set to complete in spring 2015, also a year earlier than originally planned. 

The redevelopment programme is also part of the government’s £7.2bn investment to upgrade and modernise 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. 

Much of the electrification work will be carried out by a specially designed engineering train – a 23-vehicle factory on wheels – which will enable Network Rail to work without closing the line to trains. As part of her visit, the Queen named the engineering train ‘Brunel’, after Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the engineer who built the Great Western main line. 

Ongoing work as part of the programme includes: 

The viaduct 

  • Over the next year, the project team at Reading will continue its work to complete the new viaduct which it started in 2013. This work will help end the bottleneck at Reading providing more trains and quicker, more comfortable journeys for passengers. 
  • This will be achieved by allowing fast passengers services to and from places like Bristol and South Wales to fly over the lines to Newbury, Basingstoke and the south west of England. 

Crossrail and electrification 

  • The Crossrail extension to and from Reading (2018) will mean two direct trains an hour from Reading, with passengers able to travel into, and beyond, central London without the need to change at Paddington for the first time. 
  • The rebuilding of the railway at Reading, the extension of Crossrail and electrification of the Great Western main line will mean faster, better and more reliable connections to and from Reading, more seats and a boost to the economy in the Thames Valley. 

‘Brunel’ – a factory on rails 

  • A factory on rails, ‘Brunel’ (formerly known as the High Output Plant System) is expected to cut years off the time it will take to electrify the Great Western main line. 
  • With 235 route miles to electrify and many thousands of trains to keep running while the work is done, the 23-vehicle train will work its way west, building the electrification infrastructure as it goes. 

 Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Notts Railman   24/12/2014 at 16:56

You are underselling this programme of work by calling it "refurbishment" (the same word as you use to describe the forthcoming work on Paddington station roof). "Reconstruction", "major enlargement", "rebuilding" - any of these would be a better description of what has been done at Reading. It is a major achievement, to be applauded, and is already bringing great benefits to all who use of Reading station - as a precursor to electrification and Crossrail in the next five years or so. I suggest you invest in a dictionary and thesaurus for the RTM offices, and learn how to use them.

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