Alok Sharma, the Member of Parliament for Reading West, pressed for answers on when upgrade works will take place at Tilehurst and Theale stations during a meeting held last week, with First Great Western Managing Director Mark Hopwood and Rail Minister Claire Perry MP.
Mark Hopwood was able to confirm that both station upgrades were still due to take place.
Work at Theale Station has been delayed while Network Rail re-negotiates contracts to ensure proper governance and to head off any implications regarding State Aid and Competition Law following their reclassification as a public sector body on 1 September 2014.
At Alok’s request, Rail Minister Claire Perry has agreed to intervene to speed up Network Rail’s processes for signing a new contract so that the work could start as soon as possible.
The upgrade to Theale Station has received funding from the Government’s Access for All scheme and will include improvements to the car park, a new ticket office, new cycle parking, a refreshment area and new pedestrian entrance. The station will also benefit from an upgraded CCTV system. Alok played a pivotal role in lobbying for this funding, together with Theale’s Future (a sub-committee of Theale Parish Council).
Tilehurst Station is also due to receive an upgrade to the passenger walkway bridge to include new lifts, but work has been delayed by Network Rail as it makes amendments to the bridge in preparation for electrification.
Alok Sharma said: “I am pleased to get confirmation that the upgrades to Tilehurst and Theale stations are still due to take place after an unexplained delay and I am grateful to the Minister for agreeing to intervene so these upgrades, which will be of huge benefit to many of my commuting constituents, can take place as soon as possible.”
Rail Minister Claire Perry said: “Once again, Alok Sharma has campaigned effectively on behalf of those he represents for improvements to local railways. I am happy to work with him to ensure that the planned upgrades for his local stations happen as soon as possible.”