Thirty years ago, on 4 April 1989, Her Majesty the Queen officially opened ‘The New Reading Station’, following upgrade work to improve passenger facilities.
The 1989 station upgrade included the installation of a brand-new station concourse with shopping arcade, and the construction of a new multi-level station car park. Both the concourse and the car park were linked to the existing platforms with the inclusion of a new passenger footbridge.
Since then, passengers in Reading have continued to benefit from station improvements, and in 2014 the Queen again visited the Berkshire town to officially open the improved Reading station, following extensive upgrade work.
The 2014 improvements included a new track layout, which removed congestion and a notorious bottleneck on the network caused by an increased number of passenger and freight services. A mile-long viaduct was constructed to the west of the station for fast trains, replacing a junction and helping to reduce delays by separating the fast mainlines from the relief and freight lines.
Paul Stanford, programme director for Network Rail who worked on the 2014 upgrade said:
“The removal of this bottleneck has provided capacity for at least four extra trains in each direction per hour and six extra freight trains daily – taking around two hundred lorries a day off the roads.
“The new track and improved platforms mean that trains don’t need to queue to enter the station and can still run if there are problems with other services. As well as the modification of existing platforms, five additional platforms were constructed which accommodate the new fleet of electric trains that now run on the route, operated by Great Western Railway (GWR).
“Passengers also benefitted from the new transfer deck, which is three times the size of the 1989 footbridge and incorporates both lifts and escalators, as well as an increased retail offering.
“The station and its surrounding infrastructure all completed in 2015 provides a legacy of the men and women who worked to deliver the project including Reading Borough Council who were great supporters both with planning and executing the works”.
Councillor Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:
“Reading Station is rightly recognised as one of the premier railway stations in the country, as well as one of the busiest, with as many people commuting into Reading by rail as those who use the station to commute into London.
“Reading Borough Council was instrumental in campaigning for the key track re-alignment work which increased capacity and reduced delays for passengers from 2014. The Council then supported this by itself building new interchanges to the north and south of the station, which further improved the passenger experience at Reading.
“Reading has grown considerably over the last 30 years and the station has been developed and improved over that period to cope with those extra demands.”
The changes that have been implemented since 1989 when the Queen opened the new station have been significant. Reading in now the seventh busiest station in the country outside of London and the second largest interchange behind Birmingham New Street and is used by nearly 20 million passengers a year.
The improvements made in the past ten years mean that more trains can run through Reading each day, with fewer delays. Passengers can enjoy faster, more frequent and more reliable journeys, and a better, brighter station.