Monday 20 Dec 2010


Region & Route:
| Wales & Western: Western
| Wales & Western

With five days to go until Christmas, 250 Network Rail engineers and contractors are preparing to deliver the first phase of a six-year project to upgrade Reading’s railway.

Between Christmas Day and 3 January, Network Rail will complete the resignaling of 100 miles of railway around Reading, and lift a 1,000 tonne railway bridge into place over Caversham Road. The work will require 16,000 man hours, take ten days to complete, and is the biggest engineering upgrade Network Rail is undertaking anywhere on Britain’s railway this Christmas.

Bill Henry, project director for Network Rail in Reading said: “The work we’re doing this Christmas is the launch pad for our project to improve Reading’s station and railway. The bridge we’re setting in place over Caversham Road will provide space for track to serve new platforms at the station; and the state of the art signalling technology we’re installing will allow us to make huge changes to the track layout to increase capacity and cut delays. This work will benefit passengers along the entire Western route, from south Wales and the south west to London.

“We’ve been planning and preparing for this work for well over a year now. We’re right ready to go and I’m excited to get started.”

The work over the Christmas period will mean substantial changes to train services through Reading, affecting the entire Western route. No trains will be able to run through Reading from 27-30 December, with an amended timetable in place until 4 January (the first working day of the New Year). Passengers will still be able to reach their destinations, with diversionary routes in place wherever possible to reduce the need for replacement bus services. Passengers should check the details of their journeys before they travel to see how they’re affected (

Work to replace the rail bridge over Caversham Road will require the closure of Caversham Road between Tudor Road (Station Hill) and Caversham Road roundabout from 8pm on 30 December 2010 to 6am on 3 January 2011. Members of the public will be able to view the bridge lift from Caversham Road (the Caversham side of the railway tracks). The main lift is scheduled to take place on the morning of New Year’s Day.

Notes to editors

Improving Reading’s railway, key facts:

The project:

· 730 trains per day serve Reading station. It’s the second busiest station in the UK outside London (only Birmingham New Street is busier)

· 14m passengers currently use Reading station every year. This is predicted to double by 2030

· Journey time to London when Reading Station opened: 1hr 5mins. Journey time to London now: 30mins.

This Christmas

· Working 24/7 for ten days

· Over 250 Network Rail employees and contractors working over the Christmas period

· Over 16,000 man hours

Caversham Road bridge

· 1,000 tonne bridge deck

· Moved by a self propelled modular transporter with 72 axels. Each axel can be turned independently to allow for very precise movements

· 25cm – the amount of clearance between the new bridge and the corner of our offices on its route to Caversham Road. We’re removing part of the facia from our building to provide an extra metre’s clearance.


· The whole project will transfer control for over 100 miles of railway from Reading to Didcot

· There are seven stages of recontrol. Stages 1-3 (between Woodborough and Theale on the Berks and Hants line, and from Goring to Cholsey on the Great Western Mainline) are complete

· Stages 4-7 (between Ruscombe and Pangbourne on the Great Western Mainline, to Theale on the Berks and Hants line, and to Wokingham on the Southern lines) will be completed between 25 – 30 December

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
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Network Rail press office - South East route
020 3357 7969

About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

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