Published: 10th August 2014
Reading station has been officially opened by The Queen - 30 years after the last time she opened it! That was a modernisation project but the latest station upgrade is part of a £900 million Reading area project and has taken four years of careful project work to deliver it successfully.
The whole scheme, when complete in Spring 2015, has brought a new viaduct being constructed to the west of the station seperating the west of England lines from the Great Weest Main Line (GWML). The scheme has also brought back into use another route under the GWML to the east of the station linking the routes from the southern railway network.
A new train depot has also been provided as the old one was demolished to make way for the new flyover ehich is still under construction and when open, will remove a huge rail bottleneck.
The scope of the works has slightly altered as the Government authorised the route’s electrification afterbthe upgrade was underway, but as all railway projects make pasive provision for electrification, the extra work was manageable.
The GWML is also being resignalled to conform with the European Train Control System (ECTS) working alongside other rail projects at the same time. The resignalling will allow Crosrail services to reach Reading because the existing signalling arrangements limited their westwards extremity to Maidenhead. It will also allow more trains to operate than is currently possible.
So there will be an estimated further five years of construction on the GWML which is why The Government is thought to be about to offer First Freat western a five-year management contract to continue operating trains.
They will also have to introduce the new Hitachi built Intercity Express Trains trains to service and phase out most of the 40 year old popular High Speed Trains.
With the upgrades, Reading is expected to be used by 30 million pssengers a year in 15 years time (twice as many as today) using the new capacity created by the upgrade project. It has provided five new platforms new entrances and new accessible lifts and escalators and importantly for passenger flows, a new wide concourse above the GWML.
:‘Reading is now a state-of-the-art station, future-proofed to cope with more than double its current number of passengers’, said Robbie Burns, NR’s Regional Director, Infrastructure Projects, Western & Wales, adding that the remodelling would address ‘one of the worst bottlenecks on the British railway network’.
First Great Western Managing Director Mark Hopwood said at the opening ‘this is a fantastic day, not just because our customers have a brand new station that is fit for the 21st century, but also because it marks the completion of the first major project in a series of billion-pound investments that will be made in the Great Western network over the coming years.’
Commenting on the Queen's visit to Reading Station he said: “We are honoured to have the Queen here at Reading today. A huge effort from thousands of Network Rail and First Great Western staff has gone into developing the station and it is great to see their achievement recognised.
“Now, we need to look ahead. In the coming years, the Great Western network will see some of the biggest investments since Brunel with projects like electrification and Crossrail bringing huge economic benefits to the region. We will work with Network Rail to make them happen.
Birmingham New Street station is now deemed to be half way in its modernisation project and Network Rail (NR) has announced that the new station and the adjoining Grand Central shopping centre will be officially opened in September next year.
Use of the unloved 1960’s building had outgrown its capacity in terms of trains, passengers and passengers’ facilities and so is being expanded. The Birmingham tram system is also being extended to the new station entrance and on to Curzon Street ready for HS2.
Much of the station has been demolished while remaining open for traffic and now the new atrium roof has been lowered into place, another 6000 tonnes of reinforced concrete will be removed from what’s left of the old station. This will provide the space needed under the new roof and will be the size of a football pitch.
The project started in 2010 and was costed at £600million and is partnered with another £150million of investment secured locally to transformation the Pallasades shopping centre into what will become Grand Central Birmingham.
Chris Montgomery, project director for Network Rail, said: “This project is also a great example of how investment in our transport infrastructure can boost the economy.”
“The New Street redevelopment, complemented by Grand Central, will improve the city centre environment in Birmingham, creating new public space to stimulate regeneration and create up to one thousand new jobs for local people.”
Sir Albert Bore, the leader of Birmingham City Council added that the opening of the second and larger phase of Birmingham New Street station will see the completion of a world class station in the centre of the city and a fitting arrival point for those coming for business or leisure.
“The parallel opening of Grand Central in time for Christmas will enhance the shopping and leisure offer in Birmingham and will complement the Bullring, Mailbox, independent shops, and the Jewellery Quarter”, he said.