Station underpass resized

Improvements to Reading Station underpass begin next month

  • Work will begin on Tuesday 7 May and be finished before the Reading Festival in August
  • Underpass will close for the duration with a signed diversion in place

WORKS to refurbish the important pedestrian and cycle underpass which runs below Reading Station are due to begin next month. The underpass will close from 7am on Tuesday 7 May and will remain closed until the works are completed, reopening on Tuesday 20 August.

The £400,000 Reading Council-led project will see the low-hanging ceiling tiles – which are regularly vandalised – completely removed, with service ducts protected and headroom clearance significantly improved.  Work also includes repairs to floor and wall tiles and improvements to the approaches to the underpass along with improved signage. The project is partially funded by a planning agreement secured by the Council as part of the Station Hill development. Whilst the underpass refurbishment work is taking place it will receive a deep clean, along with repairs and replacement of any lighting needing attention.

In order to complete the project before the arrival of Reading Festival on the August Bank Holiday weekend (Friday 23 – Sunday 25 August), a full closure of the subway will be required for the works to be completed within 16 weeks.  A partial opening of the subway would extend the costs and timescale of the project significantly and would mean it would not be available during the festival. The project has been delayed to this point following negotiations with Network Rail on final designs, which are now complete.

A fully signed diversion will be in place for the duration of the 16-week closure. Approaching from the Caversham side, the diversion will be along Trooper Potts Way, Vastern Road, turning right at the Vastern Road roundabout and then right again on Forbury Road to the town centre side of the station, and reversed if approaching from the town centre side. Should residents wish to access areas to the west of the station, they may prefer to go west along Vastern Road and then south along Caversham Road.

Station subway closure diversion

The Council has negotiated with Network Rail for disabled residents to be provided with access directly through Reading Station. Disabled access will be granted upon request.

A historic cycle ban along the underpass will be officially removed when the refurbished underpass opens, after public consultation carried out last year showed 73% were in favour of the change.

Sam Shean, Reading Borough Council’s Highways and Traffic Services Manager, said:

“Regular users of the station underpass will be all too familiar with the unsightly ceiling tiles which are routinely vandalised, and the Council is pleased to finally be able to start the major refurbishment works which, when complete, promises to offer a significantly more attractive and welcoming route between the two sides of the station. The removal of the historic cycling restriction when it opens will also deliver another key strategic cycle route through the town, linking Christchurch Bridge and the Caversham side of Reading Station to the town centre.

“Before that however, there will be the obvious inconvenience of a 16-week closure which we had hoped to avoid, but this was ultimately not possible if we are to get the subway open for the Reading Festival where it is an essential piece of infrastructure in getting many thousands of visitors to and from the festival site safely.

“A fully signed diversion will be in place while the improvement works takes place and we are pleased to have negotiated a direct route through the station with Network Rail for the full duration of the closure for disabled residents.

“In the meantime, we would advise regular users of the underpass to build some extra time into their journeys whilst these important improvements take place and we thank them for their patience.”

When Reading Station subway was opened in 2013 it was Reading Borough Council who insisted on maintaining the north-south pedestrian link through the station, when it was redeveloped by Network Rail. Engineering constraints at the time meant the subway construction included a low suspended ceiling which has subsequently become not only unsightly, but a maintenance and cost liability for the Council.