Reading to Basingstoke Line
|Reading to Basingstoke|
|Locale||South East England|
First Great Western
|Rolling stock||Class 66
Class 150 Sprinter
Class 165 Networker
Class 166 Networker
Class 220 Voyager
Class 221 Super Voyager
|No. of tracks||2|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Electrification||Planned 25kv OHLE by 2018|
|Reading to Basingstoke|
The Reading to Basingstoke Line is a short railway link between the South Western Main Line and the Great Western Main Line, constructed by the Great Western Railway between 1846 and 1848. The line is served by First Great Western local services between Reading and Basingstoke, which stop at the intermediate stations Reading West, Mortimer and Bramley. The line is also an important through route for longer distance passenger and freight services: CrossCountry services from Bournemouth and Southampton to Birmingham and the North of England and freight trains between Southampton Docks and the Midlands use the line. The section of line between Southcote Junction and Basingstoke was resignalled in 2006, to increase the capacity of the line.
A railway was originally proposed in 1843 as a link between Basingstoke, Newbury and Didcot by the London and South Western Railway. A new company, the Berks and Hants Railway had the idea of building the link between Basingstoke and Reading. The Berks and Hants Railway joined the Great Western Railway before the track was laid.
The railway was built by the GWR, with the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who used broad gauge, from Reading's railway station to Basingstoke. Since the main line at Basingstoke used standard gauge, it was impossible for the railways to share the same station. The GWR built a small station to the north of the L&SWR's station.
In 1846, prior to the line being built, the Gauge Commissioners (Regulation of Gauge Act) recommended to Parliament that the line from Reading to Basingstoke should be built to standard gauge. In 1854 the Great Western was ordered to convert the railway to standard gauge between Reading and Basingstoke by 7 February 1856, or face a fine of £200 each day. However, it was not until 22 December 1856 that a mixed gauge track was opened. Basingstoke kept its separate Great Western station until 1 January 1932 when trains were diverted into the L&SWR station with addition of one platform, still in use today, from the old station.
In 1895, a railway station was opened at Bramley, then in 1917, a large depot was opened at Bramley Ordnance Depot, which had a complex network of sidings. The depot was used to manufacture and store ammunition, and lasted until 1987. Another station was opened at Reading West, and allowed long-distance trains to call at Reading without the need to reverse at Reading's main station. This became less of an issue when diesel multiple unit trains were introduced, which could easily reverse at Reading General.
Since the conversion, the line uses standard gauge. The line is limited to 75 mph, and is not electrified. It has a maximum tonnage of 15 tonnes. The line has two tracks. There is a level crossing at Bramley railway station.
The route sees 2 stopping services in either direction every hour which are operated by First Great Western. A further train in each direction every hour is operated by CrossCountry which reverses at Reading. FGW services are operated by Class 150, 165 and 166. South West Trains previously ran services to Brighton on this route.
The railway is listed with Network Rail as part of route 13, the Great Western main line. In July 2007, plans were agreed to build a station in Reading south of Southcot Junction in the Green Park business park, serving the southern suburbs of Reading and also the Madejski Stadium. Construction on Reading Green Park railway station was expected to be completed in 2010, but the plans have since been suspended.
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