Reading station gets royal approval

The town played host to Royalty today as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II attended the newly refurbished Reading Train Station for the official opening.

25 years after opening the redevelopment which now forms the southern entrance of the station complex, Her Majesty The Queen came to Reading to officially open the new £895m redevelopment of the town’s rail interchange.

Crowds and well-wishers gathered in numbers to welcome her arrival to the town.

Her Majesty visited the new pedestrian footbridge and it’s array of new shops and stores, and heard of the work carried out to date as well as details of the forthcoming electrification programme.

A new train was named by Her Majesty which will be used on the new electrified line between London and Swansea. A brief session of group photographs took place with construction workers before the Queen left Reading just before noon.

Reading Station is one of 19 stations managed by Network Rail, and is the eighth busiest in the country outside London, with an estimated 15.3million passenger entries and exits based on latest figures. It is served by three main train companies; First Great Western, Cross Country Services and South West Trains.

The first Reading Station was opened on 30 March 1840 as the temporary western terminus of the original line of the Great Western Railway. Fast forward almost a century and a half, and Her Majesty came to Reading in 1989 to open a brand new station concourse and shopping arcade, the main part of which remains today as the south entrance to the station facing Station Road.

Until 2013, to serve heavy rail traffic into and out of the town, the station had four through-platforms and eight terminal platforms. Bottlenecking would often occur with passenger trains needing to wait outside the station for a platform to become available. Network Rail unveiled plans in 2008 for an extensive redevelopment project at the station estimated to cost around £400m.

Today has seen the total cost of the project rise to almost £900m, though the plans and actual development are considerably more expansive than those originally drafted.

Reading Station as it now stands has a total of 15 platforms and an increased freight capacity which will now remove the equivalent of 200 lorries of freight transportation from the road network, thus reducing carbon emissions and easing congestion.

The Great Western Main Line from London to Bristol which runs through Reading is due to be electrified by 2016, which will see most services transferred to electric traction using the new fleet of Class 800 and Class 801 trains which will become known as the ‘Hitachi Super Express’ trains after the name of the bid-winning consortium.

Further details about the work done at Reading Station can be found on Network Rail’s site here.

Last modified on Monday, 13 April 2015 08:00