The Government has undertaken the biggest investment in our rail services since the Victorian era and Reading has benefitted. This includes the major redevelopment of Reading station, rail electrification and the decision for Crossrail to come to Reading. I have been very happy to support these initiatives during my time as an MP, as well as going in to bat for investment at local stations in my Reading West constituency. I have also been campaigned successfully for more standard class seating on trains between Reading and Paddington.
But one issue which has been taking some time to resolve is improved accessibility access at Tilehurst station. Over the years I have had a long correspondence and meetings with both Great Western Railway (GWR) and Network Rail about the need to make Tilehurst station more accessible, particularly for those with disabilities, the elderly and parents of young children.
Last November I supported a formal bid made by GWR to secure Government money from the Access for All fund to improve access at Tilehurst station. Sadly, this bid was not successful although Theale station is now benefitting from Access for All funding, following a lengthy campaign by Theale Parish Council, West Berkshire Council and local Theale residents, which I supported.
Following the unsuccessful November bid, I continued to press the case for Tilehurst station with the Rail Minister Nusrat Ghani MP and Network Rail. Following my incessant lobbying I am delighted with the Network Rail announcement this week that development work will now take place to find a viable solution to add new lifts at Tilehurst station for the first time. The development work, which will start shortly, will be funded by Network Rail from within existing budgets, with plans being ready for a design and build contract in 2020.
Tilehurst station, which serves more than half a million passengers a year, had a new footbridge installed as part of the £6 billion modernisation scheme to bring marked improvements to the Great Western Main Line in 2015.
I am grateful to both the Rail Minister and Network Rail for making this excellent decision. I will continue to pursue this matter with vigour with Network Rail and the Department for Transport until we have actually delivered the lifts providing access for commuters to all four platforms at Tilehurst station.
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