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Network Rail breaks up Reading job

Network Rail will break up the £644 million revamp of Reading station into a number packages, in a bid to remain as close to the project as possible.

The head of contracts for Reading and Crossrail, Andy Haynes, said a number of bigger contractors such as Balfour Beatty had expressed an interest in bidding for the project in its entirety but Network Rail balked at relinquishing too much control of such a public project.

Mr Haynes continued: “On a project like this, where there is a lot of interface with the public, we want to be close to the front line and so will oversee the work ourselves.”

The Reading procurement fits in with the rail operator’s strategy of taking a more hands-on role in project management, which was promised to the rail regulator following the West Coast main line delays over the new year period.

The biggest single package up for grabs is expected to be the construction of a 2 km elevated railway.

Original plans for the overhaul included a 1.8 km cut and cover underpass, but this has been replaced with an elevated railway that will allow mainline trains to enter and leave the western side of the station without crossing freight train tracks.

The rebuilding of Cow Lane bridge, over the tracks to the west of the station, is likely to be let as one package. The bridge is currently just one lane wide and will be extended to two lanes, plus pedestrian and cycle paths.

Two new platforms will be built to the north of the existing ones, doubling the capacity of high-speed trains travelling between the West Country and London.

The plat for m serving Waterloo will be extended to allow for longer trains and a new southern platform will also be built.

A further package is likely to include the extension of two bridges – Caversham Road and Vastern Road – which run over the tracks to the east of the station.

A grade separation, 25 km of track, a footbridge spanning the station and a new depot facility make up the remainder of the construction jobs.

The decision to split the procurement into packages follows a discussion with contractors in January about how the overhaul should be handled.

Contractors interested in the job will be invited to a briefing next month, when finalised packages and timescales will be announced.

Signalling and telecoms enabling work is being carried out by Westinghouse. C Spencer is building the new signalling centre, relocated from a site to the north of the existing tracks, at Didcot, Oxfordshire, and to be completed by 2010.

The Department for Transport is providing £425 million of funding with a further £15 million coming from Reading Borough Council.

Network Rail is paying the remaining £204 million from its renewal works budget.


2010 Signalling centre at Didcot completed. Start of major work at Reading station

2011 Start of work on new platforms

2012 New platforms open

2014 2 km elevated railway open

2015 Eastern chord open

To download a PDF of the station improvement plans, click on the resource box on the right hand side of the page.