Reading railway station

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Reading National Rail
Reading
Reading station platforms (post development) showing new footbridge
Location
Place Reading
Local authority Borough of Reading
Coordinates 51°27′32″N 0°58′20″W / 51.4590°N 0.9722°W / 51.4590; -0.9722Coordinates: 51°27′32″N 0°58′20″W / 51.4590°N 0.9722°W / 51.4590; -0.9722
Grid reference SU714738
Operations
Station code RDG
Managed by Network Rail
Number of platforms 15
DfT category B
Live arrivals/departures and station information
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2002/03  12.946 million
2004/05 Increase 13.297 million
2005/06 Increase 13.571 million
2006/07 Increase 14.368 million
2007/08 Increase 14.549 million
2008/09 Decrease 14.384 million
2009/10 Decrease 13.866 million
2010/11 Increase 14.400 million
2011/12 Increase 15.267 million
2012/13 Increase 15.413 million
History
Original company Great Western Railway
Pre-grouping GWR
Post-grouping GWR
30 March 1840 Opened
National RailUK railway stations
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Reading from Office of Rail Regulation statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
Portal icon UK Railways portal

Reading railway station (formerly Reading General) is a major railway station and transport hub in the English town of Reading. It is on the northern edge of the town centre, near the main retail and commercial areas, and also the River Thames. Next to the railway station is a bus interchange, served by most of Reading's urban and rural bus services.

With almost 15.3 million passenger entries and exits between April 2011 and March 2012, Reading is the eighth-busiest station in the UK outside London.[1] It is the third busiest interchange station outside London, after Birmingham New Street and Manchester Piccadilly, with almost 3.8 million passengers changing trains at the station annually.[2] Reading is one of 19 stations managed by Network Rail.[3]

The station is served by three train operating companies: First Great Western, South West Trains and CrossCountry. It was sponsored by ING Direct and later the University of Reading.

History[edit]

Great Western Railway station (right), Southern station (left) in 1865

The first Reading station was opened on 30 March 1840 as the temporary western terminus of the original line of the Great Western Railway (GWR). The time taken to travel from London to Reading was reduced to one hour and five minutes, less than a quarter of the time taken by the fastest stagecoach. The line was extended to its intended terminus at Bristol in 1841. As built, Reading station was a typical Brunel-designed single-sided intermediate station, with separate up and down platforms situated to the south of the through tracks and arranged so that all up trains calling at Reading had to cross the route of all down through trains.[citation needed]

In 1844, the Great Western Hotel, was opened across the Forbury Road for people visiting the town. It is thought to be the oldest surviving railway hotel in the world.[4] New routes soon joined the London to Bristol line, with the line from Reading to Newbury and Hungerford opening in 1847, and the line to Basingstoke in 1848.

In 1860, a new station building, in Bath Stone and incorporating a tower and clock, was constructed for the Great Western Railway. In 1898 the single sided station was replaced by a conventional design with 'up', 'down' and 'relief' platforms linked by a pedestrian subway.

Access to the station from Broad Street was not direct, until Queen Victoria Street was built in 1903. This provided a route through to Friar Street and Station Road.[5]

Platform one at Reading railway station in 1945

The station was originally named Reading and became Reading General on 26 September 1949 to distinguish it from the ex-South Eastern Railway station nearby.[6][7] The "General" suffix was dropped from timetables in 1973, but some of the station nameboards still stated "Reading General" in 1974.[8]

From 6 September 1965, services from the former Reading Southern station were diverted into a newly constructed terminal platform (4A) in the General station.[9] This was long enough for a single eight coach train, which was later found to be inadequate,[10] and so a second terminal platform (4B) serving the same line was opened in 1975[11] for the commencement of the service from Reading to Gatwick Airport.

In 1989 a brand new station concourse, included a shopping arcade named after Brunel, opened on the western end of the old Reading Southern station site, linked to the platforms of the main station by a new footbridge. At the same time a new multi-level station car park was built on the site of the former goods yard and signal works to the north of the station, and linked to the same footbridge. The station facilities in the 1860 station building were converted into The Three Guineas public house.

Motive power depot[edit]

The GWR built a small engine shed in the junction of the lines to Didcot and those to Basingstoke in 1841. This was enlarged and rebuilt in 1876 and again in 1930. It was closed by British Railways in 1965 and replaced by the current purpose-built Traction Maintenance Depot.[12]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

Extreme weather was the cause of an early casualty in the station's history. On 24 March 1840, whilst the station was nearing completion, 24-year-old Henry West was working on the station roof when a freak wind (described at the time as a tornado) lifted that section of the roof, carrying it and West around 200 feet (61 m) away; West was killed.[13] On the wall of the main station building there is a brass plaque, commemorating the event.

An accident occurred at Reading on 17 June 1914, and was witnessed by the railway historian O. S. Nock, then a schoolboy. The driver of a train to Ascot moved off even though the signal was at 'danger', and into the path of an oncoming train bound for London Paddington; the only fatality was the driver of the Paddington train.[14]

T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) lost the 250,000-word first draft of his Seven Pillars of Wisdom at the station when he left his briefcase while changing trains in 1919. Working from memory, as he had destroyed his notes after completion of the first draft, he then completed a 400,000-word second draft in three months.

German aircraft tried to bomb the lines into the station during the beginning of World War II.

On 23 October 1993, an IRA bomb exploded at a signal post near the station, some hours after 5 lb (2 kg) of Semtex was found in the toilets of the station. The resulting closure of the railway line and evacuation of the station caused travel chaos for several hours, but no-one was injured.

Current station[edit]

Services[edit]

The current station entrance, built in 1989 on the site of the old Southern station

The station plays a key role in serving the Great Western Main Line, the line which runs west from London Paddington station to Reading. To the west of Reading station, the line splits into two branches, allowing it to serve a variety of communities in the West and South West of England and onward into South Wales. The main branch proceeds from Reading station to Bristol Temple Meads, serving key towns including Bath Spa, Chippenham and Swindon. The South Wales Main Line divides at Swindon with trains also proceeding to Bristol Parkway, Newport railway station, Cardiff Central, Bridgend, Port Talbot Parkway, Neath and Swansea via the South Wales Main Line, some terminate at Bristol, while others join the Bristol to Exeter Line towards the West Country. The other branch to the west of Reading station is the Reading to Taunton line, which serves communities in Berkshire and Wiltshire. High speed services on this line do not typically call at all stations along the route, and some express services from the South West operate non-stop from Taunton to Reading. The Reading to Taunton branch joins services travelling south from Bristol on the Bristol to Exeter line at Cogload Junction, to the north of Taunton. The line proceeds to serve the stations of Taunton, Exeter St Davids, Plymouth and onward to stations in Cornwall such as Par where the branch to Newquay diverges where some trains terminate whilst most terminate at the terminus of Penzance. Both high-speed intercity services and local services are operated by First Great Western, almost all of which are timetabled to stop at Reading.

Other main lines connect Reading with Birmingham New Street, Birmingham International, northern England and Scotland, and with Winchester, Southampton and Bournemouth to the south. Through services from north to south on these lines are operated by CrossCountry, and all services stop in Reading, which requires the trains to reverse. The main routes offered by CrossCountry are to Newcastle Central and Manchester Piccadilly to the North and Bournemouth and Southampton Central in the South. There are extensions to Edinburgh Waverley and Guildford once daily in each direction.

The secondary North Downs Line connects Reading with Guildford, Reigate and Gatwick Airport. Services on this line, together with local stopping services to Basingstoke, Newbury, Bedwyn, Oxford and London Paddington, are also operated by First Great Western. An electric suburban line operated by South West Trains links Reading to London Waterloo. In lieu of a direct rail connection to Heathrow Airport, an express bus service, RailAir, links Reading with London Heathrow Airport.

Railways around Reading
Great Western Main Line to London Paddington
Waterloo to Reading Line and North Downs Line
to London Waterloo and Redhill via Wokingham
Earley
River Kennet
Reading East Junction
Reading Southern (Closed)
Reading(formerly Reading General)
Caversham Road Junction
Reading TMD
Reading West Junction,
Freight Curve, Oxford Road Jn
Reading West
Coley Goods
Southcote Junction
Reading Green Park (Suspended proposal)
Reading to Basingstoke Line
Reading to Taunton Line to Newbury
Tilehurst
Great Western Main Line to Didcot
Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Guildford   CrossCountry
Guildford-Newcastle
  Oxford
Basingstoke CrossCountry
Bournemouth-Manchester or Southampton to Newcastle
Terminus CrossCountry
Reading-Newcastle
Terminus   First Great Western
North Downs Line
  Wokingham
London Paddington   First Great Western
Night Riviera
  Taunton
Twyford   First Great Western
Commuter services
Great Western Main Line
  Tilehurst
Slough or
London Paddington
  First Great Western
Intercity services
Great Western Main Line
  Didcot Parkway or
Swindon
London Paddington   First Great Western
Intercity services
Reading to Taunton Line
  Newbury or
Taunton
Twyford   First Great Western
Semi fast peak time services
Reading to Taunton Line
  Theale
Terminus or
Slough
  First Great Western
Local services
Reading to Taunton Line
  Reading West
Terminus   First Great Western
Reading – Basingstoke
  Reading West
Earley   South West Trains
Waterloo to Reading
  Terminus
  Future Development  
Preceding station   Crossrail roundel.svg National Rail logo.svg Crossrail   Following station
Terminus Crossrail
Line 1
towards Abbey Wood or Shenfield

Rail & sea corridor to Ireland[edit]

At either Cardiff Central or Swansea connections with the Arriva Trains Wales boat train to/from Fishguard Harbour railway station are available. This in turn connects with the Stena Line ferry to Rosslare Europort in Ireland. An integrated timetable and through ticketing is offered between Reading and Rosslare on this international rail-sea route[15] with a daily morning and evening service in both directions. This route has been in existence since 1906, enabling connections to Dublin Connolly.

Station layout[edit]

Old[edit]

Artist's impression of the redevelopment

Until 2013, to serve the traffic described above, Reading station had four through-platforms and eight terminal platforms. The limited number of through-platforms, together with flat junctions immediately east and west of the station, and the fact that north-south trains need to reverse direction in the station, render the station an acknowledged bottleneck with passenger trains often needing to wait outside the station for a platform to become available.

In July 2007, in its white paper Delivering a Sustainable Railway, the government announced plans to improve traffic flow at Reading, specifically mentioned along with Birmingham New Street station as "key congestion pinch-points" which would share investment worth £600 million.[16]

On 10 September 2008 Network Rail unveiled a £400 million regeneration and reconfiguration of the station and surrounding track, including an overpass system to the West of the station; with freight and passenger trains able to transit from the Reading to Taunton Line and Reading to Basingstoke Line to the Relief ('slow') lines without crossing the Main ('fast') lines via an underpass beneath the Main lines, rather than the current flat junction. This is planned to help alleviate current delays, due to slow moving freight trains passing through the station.[17][18] As well as the reconfiguration of the track, five additional platforms are planned; the terminus for London Waterloo will be altered, and the Cow Lane bridge under the tracks will be made two-way and include a cycle path. There will be improvements that will allow the capacity for at least 4 extra trains in each direction every hour.

The local council has also planned developments of the surrounding area in association with the developments at the station.

Track layout prior to 27 Dec 2011
Main (Bristol-Paddington) lines
Westbury lines Goods lines
Relief lines Other lines

The station layout immediately prior to 27 December 2011 was as follows:

  • Platform 1, 2, 3 – West facing bay platforms. Used for local services to Basingstoke, Newbury and Bedwyn. CrossCountry services from Bournemouth to Birmingham
  • Platform 4 – Fast services from Paddington to the West
  • Platform 4a, 4b — East facing bay platforms. Used for services on the North Downs line and to London Waterloo
  • Platform 5 – Fast services to Paddington
  • Platform 6 – East facing bay platform. Used for terminating local services to and from London Paddington
  • Platform 7 – West facing bay platform. Used for terminating CrossCountry services to and from Newcastle
  • Platform 8 – Local services from Paddington to Oxford. Also used for CrossCountry services from Birmingham to Bournemouth. Fast services to Paddington, when platform 5 is occupied.
  • Platform 9 – Local services from Oxford to Paddington and fast services to Paddington and Ealing Broadway.
  • Platform 10 – East facing bay platform. Local stopping services to Paddington calling at most stations.Also local stopping services to Henley on Thames.

New[edit]

Indicative track layout
Main (Bristol-Paddington) lines
Westbury lines
New local lines & Gatwick line
Waterloo & Guildford lines

On 31 December 2011, the new platform 4 was opened and the other platforms 1 – 11 & 16 were re-numbered accordingly.[19] while the new platform 5 (old 4a) opened on 23 April 2012.[20] The land north of the station is cleared awaiting construction of the new platforms 12–15. The subway is currently closed to passengers. Buildings on platform 7 and 10 (old 4 and 9) have been demolished to allow construction of the new passenger bridge. On 12 July 2012, the newly extended platform 6 (old 4b) re-opened.[21] Following a blockade over the Easter weekend in 2013, new platforms 12 to 15 opened, platform 11 (old 10) became a through platform and the temporary platform 16 (old 6) closed.

The station now has nine through platforms numbered 7 to 15, split into 'a' and 'b' sections, with 'a' being the east end and 'b' the west end. 7 to 11 are on the Main lines, whereas 12 to 15 are on the Relief lines. The disused underpass east of the station will link the electrified Wokingham line to the 'slow' lines at the north of the station complex, allowing for Heathrow Airtrack services. Crossrail could also be accommodated at the new station with little work beyond electrification, as new sidings have been planned to the west of the station.

On 29 March 2013 the new transfer deck was opened, and on 2 April 2013 the new northern through platforms became available. The subway has reopened as a public right of way from the north to the south of the station, with no platform access. By 7 April 2013 the old footbridge had been completely removed.

The currently published plans indicate the following eventual layout:[22][23]

  • Platform 1, 2, 3 – West facing bay platforms. Platforms 1 and 2 for local services to Basingstoke, Newbury and Bedwyn, and platform 3 for Cross Country reversing trains.
  • Platform 4, 5, 6 — (new platform adjacent to Apex Plaza & former platforms 4a & 4b) East facing bay platforms. Used for services on the North Downs line and to London Waterloo. Was also proposed for the now cancelled Airtrack Scheme.
  • Platform 7 – (formerly platform 4) Down trains for the Newbury route and for reversing Cross Country services.
  • Platform 8, 9 – (formerly platforms 5 & 8) Two Down Main platforms for long-distance services
  • Platform 10, 11 – (formerly platforms 9 & 10 ) Two Up Main platforms for long-distance services
  • Platform 12, 13, 14 & 15 – (New platforms on site of former goods sidings) Up and Down Relief line platforms for stopping services.
  • Former Platform 7 was taken out of use in December 2010 and the track infilled.
  • Former Platform 6 was temporarily renumbered as Platform 16 until closed on 29 March 2013.

As of May 2011, the cost of the project had risen to £850m, but it will be completed earlier than previously scheduled in 2015.[24] These plans provide for possible future Crossrail and Airtrack services at Reading station, building a railway that will be fit for at least the next thirty years. Network Rail are also examining options to improve the station concourse, provide new facilities such as improved ticketing and enhance cycle facilities.

Also the improvements allow 6 new freight trains each day — this could take around 200 lorries a day off the roads. Rail freight has only a quarter of the carbon footprint of moving freight by road, meaning this project will contribute to reductions in carbon and congestion.

Recycling of infrastructure[edit]

During the station's major reconstruction, and the associated moving of locomotive stabling and the servicing depot from south of the Great Western mainline to its north, a number of major components either became redundant or were no longer needed. Network Rail offered these out to museums and the railway preservation movement, nominally for free subject to the cost of delivery being funded. In April 2011, the pair of former 17 metres (56 ft) road bridges to the west of the station were delivered to Loughborough Central on the Great Central Railway for future use on their bridging project.[25] In January 2014 one of the 22,500 imperial gallons (102,000 l; 27,000 US gal) water tanks was moved to Bishops Lydeard on the West Somerset Railway.[26]

Heathrow Airport links[edit]

Reading station was intended to be the western terminus for the proposed Heathrow Airtrack rail service. This project, promoted by BAA, envisaged the construction of a spur from the Waterloo to Reading Line to Heathrow Airport, creating direct rail links from the airport to Reading, London Waterloo, Woking and Guildford. Airtrack was cancelled by BAA in April 2011[27] but, in October 2011, Wandsworth Council announced a revised plan called Airtrack-Lite.[28]

Future[edit]

In May 2011 First Great Western exercised an option to terminate the franchise in March 2013, avoiding £827 million in premium payments to the Department for Transport.[29][30] In April 2012 the franchise was put out to tender to the four shortlisted bidders, Arriva, FirstGroup, National Express and Stagecoach,[31][32][33] but the process was paused and later cancelled after the collapse of the InterCity West Coast franchise competition,[34] and the existing franchise extended.[35] In October 2013 a new 23-month franchise running to September 2015 was awarded directly to First Great Western.[35][36][37]

The Great Western Main Line from London to Bristol is due to be electrified by 2016, which will see most services transferred to electric traction using new Intercity Express Trains.[38] It was announced in November 2013 that Network Rail would take over management of the station from First Great Western as of April 2014.[39]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Steer Davies Gleave (May 2013). "Estimates of station usage 2011–12" (XLSX). Office of Rail Regulation. Retrieved 19 May 2013. 
  2. ^ "Estimates of Station Usage 2011/12". Office of Rail Regulation. p. 19. Retrieved 19 May 2013. 
  3. ^ "Commercial information". Our Stations. London: Network Rail. April 2014. Retrieved 12 April 2014. 
  4. ^ "Building the Great Western Railway". Reading History Trail. Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 5 May 2011. 
  5. ^ "Victorian Urban Development". Reading History Trail. Archived from the original on 2011-05-14. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  6. ^ Butt 1995, p. 195.
  7. ^ Slater 1974a, Western's last "General", p.361.
  8. ^ Slater 1974b, Western "Generals", p.520.
  9. ^ Slater 1974a, New Southern platform at Reading, pp.362–363.
  10. ^ Matthews 2006, p. 30.
  11. ^ Griffiths, Roger; Smith, Paul (1999). The directory of British engine Sheds and Principal Locomotive Servicing Points 1. Oxford: Oxford Publishing Co. p. 40. ISBN 0-86093-542-6. 
  12. ^ Waters 1990, p. 11.
  13. ^ Nock & Cooper 1987, pp. 128,130.
  14. ^ "Rosslare to Fishguard". Stena Line. n.d. Retrieved 2 July 2012. 
  15. ^ Forster, Mark (15–28 August 2007). "Rebuild will unblock Berkshire Bottleneck". Rail 572: 46–7. 
  16. ^ Station's £400m revamp unveiled, BBC News Berkshire.
  17. ^ Network Rail's plans.
  18. ^ "New platform 4 opens at Reading 31/12/11". 
  19. ^ "New platform 5 opens. April 2012". 
  20. ^ "New platform 6 opens at Reading station 12/7/12. First train arrives.". 
  21. ^ "£425M transformation planned at Reading". railnews.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-12-26. 
  22. ^ "Reading Station News, November 2011". First Great Western. 
  23. ^ "Reading rail station's £850m upgrade to finish early". BBC News. 18 May 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2012. 
  24. ^ "Old Reading station bridge joins Great Central Railway". BBC News. 7 April 2011. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  25. ^ Paul Conibeare (10 January 2014). "A new water tank for the West Somerset Railway locomotive department arrives from Reading". West Somerset Railway. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  26. ^ "Heathrow Airtrack Waterloo rail link shelved by BAA". BBC News. 11 April 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2012. 
  27. ^ "Wandsworth Council – New Airtrack plan to connect Heathrow". London Borough of Wandsworth. 14 October 2010. Retrieved 3 April 2012. 
  28. ^ FirstGroup to quit Great Western deal early The Guardian 12 May 2011
  29. ^ FirstGroup gives up First Great Western rail franchise early, saves £800m in payments to the government The Telegraph 12 May 2011
  30. ^ Haigh, Philip (18 April 2012). "First leads a field of seven bidding for rail franchises". RAIL magazine (Peterborough: Bauer Media) (694): 8–9. 
  31. ^ "Great Western franchise to be extended". Railnews. 19 July 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  32. ^ "New Great Western franchise to deliver new express trains" (Press release). Department for Transport. 27 July 2012. Retrieved 29 July 2012. 
  33. ^ "Great Western London to south Wales rail contest scrapped". BBC News (BBC). 31 January 2013. Retrieved 31 January 2013. 
  34. ^ a b "First Great Western awarded new franchise". Railway Gazette International. 3 October 2013. 
  35. ^ "First celebrates last-minute Great Western deal". Railnews. 3 October 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  36. ^ "First Great Western retains Wales and west rail franchise". BBC News (BBC). 3 October 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  37. ^ "Modernising the Great Western". Network Rail. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  38. ^ "Reading railway station to be managed by Network Rail". BBC News (BBC). 18 November 2013. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]