Reading Area Rail Network Upgrade Gathers Pace

Published 19th June 2012

Northern Entrance and Platforms Now Taking Shape

READING - A large steel construction behind platform 10 at Reading has been erected over the last month and will be the station’s new northern entrance at the end of this year. This will also house the First Great Western (FGW) staff accommodation block and control room plus the Arriva CrossCountry food preparation team.

The construction shell comprises of 359 steel sections weighing 180 tonnes. The first of the lift shafts was installed in March and designated for staff use while three more are being installed. Two are for passenger use, the other is a service lift to be used for transport retail and CrossCountry train deliveries and disposing rubbish from the station overnight.

What’s In The New Building?

When the northern entrance is complete, there will be an estimated 1014 steel sections used with a combined weight of over 400 tonnes. Running under the new building is the new public subway running north-south under the station but will not offer access to any of the platforms replacing the existing dark and often flooded subway.

Other facilities here will be the HV (High Voltage) room, the LV (Low Voltage) room, the UPS (uninterrupted Power Supply) room and the Comms (Communications) room.

Track level structures are for the massive concrete and steel supports for the transfer deck and the lift bases are also now in place for each of the platforms.

Further along the trackbed are the emergency escape staircases that lead from the west end of the new platforms and come out on the northern side of the station. These will be replicated at the eastern end of the new platforms.

The new trackbed from the re-instated diveunder to the east of the station has been created and will link in with services to and from the Southern electrified network.

Platform 5 Problems

Despite investigative core samples being taken an unforeseen problem with the existing platform has emerged. The concrete structure was found to be cracked out of sight during works and needed to be either repaired or taken out. Had it been filled with concrete, more work would have been required in around ten years’ time in the form of huge repairs or demolition.

Taking the long view the project decided to demolish the entire platform, rebuild and do the job properly with teams working in back to back shifts cutting out the huge concrete panels but leaving the undamaged piers alone.

Once the tops of the piers are cleared, the new panels will be formed on site and concrete poured in situ. This extra work will cause some delay but in the long term will cause much less disruption than if the work was not done now.

Ready to Move

The new 690 tonne transfer deck or footbridge is well into its construction and is being made ready for its first move across the railway to sit above platforms 8 and 9. The bridge is to be launched over the railway using a temporary Vertical and Lateral Supports. These give directional control of the bridge deck during the launch to prevent the deck crabbing or twisting.

Also to be used are Pulling & Restrain Systems which pulls the bridge deck along the vertical supports and provides restraint to the bridge deck to prevent unexpected movements. The total length of move for this phase will be 28 Metres.

Moving Power

Power to move the bridge is supplied by Strand Jacks and each one is attached by 27 cables with each cable capable of taking a load of 15.4 tonnes offering a capacity of 418 tonnes. All of the cables are attached to a fixed anchor point. The date of the first move is set for early July 2012 just before the Olympic Games start.

A strand jack is a hollow hydraulic cylinder with a set of steel cables passing through the open centre, each one passing through two clamps - one mounted to either end of the cylinder. The jack operates in the manner of a caterpillar's walk: climbing (or descending) along the strands by releasing the clamp at one end, expanding the cylinder, clamping there, releasing the trailing end, contracting, and clamping the trailing end before starting over again.

Platform 6

The works on platform 6 and the far end of platform 5 are progressing well and the first sections of the new canopy are being installed. The canopy works will start from the station end of the platforms and at the same time, the concrete panels for the platform itself begin at the London end of the platforms.

The Station Dog Collects for Charity!

Many Great Western stations in the early years used a station dog for charity collections and Reading had its own. In March 1894 the dog at Reading was a collie named Jack who died in February 1896 having collected £98 for the widows and orphans fund.

In October 1908 a black retriever called Prince was presented by Sir Rufus Isaacs and during his four years he collected £220 11s 2 3/4p made up of 44,282 coins.

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