Theale Station Upgrade

tracksAs you may know, in December 2011 First Great Western was successful in securing £1,250,000 for Theale Station to install a footbridge with lifts to both platforms. This is something rail users have wanted for some time and fits with the company’s stated aim of improving services to customers.

To date, the project has been progressed by Great Western Railways (re-named from First Great Western in October 2015) and Network Rail, with insight and requirements from West Berkshire Council and other groups, of which Theale’s Future is one.

Please see below updates as time passes. The most recent update is at the top.


Update: 12th March, 2017

On Friday 10th March, we received notification from the office of Alok Sharma MP that the decision has been made by the government to defer the update to Theale station to add new lifts and footbridge until at least April 2019. This is a big disappointment to all of us that have been trying to see this project delivered.

The letter from Rail Minister Paul Maynard MP to Alok Sharma MP is below:
theale_station_2015_05_09_160525_small
theale_station_2015_05_09_160525_small
 

This disappointing news follows months of requests for updates from Theale’s Future to Mr Sharma, Network Rail, First Great Western and the Rail Minister himself.

As you know, there is a new station building at Theale which is currently not used. We shall seek to validate what the plan now is for this building in light of the deferral of the other expected works.

Update: 28th May, 2016

This week, Theale’s Future once again chased for a progress report from Network Rail regarding the re-planning as a result of the Hendy Review (See previous entries).

The response from Network Rail is that they are waiting on clarity from the Department for Transport as to what schemes they want Network Rail to progress and which they would like to hold until the next “control period”, which starts in April 2019.
The project manager at Network Rail is hoping that clarification will be provided within the next 8 weeks (which takes us to the end of July), although this is an aspirational timeline from Network Rail.

Claire Perry MP, miniter responsible for rail issues, has stated in a letter to Alok Sharma MP – to which Theale’s Future has been sent a copy – that “Network Rail is working closely with the Department [for Transport] and the Office of Rail and Road to publish a revised delivery plan in Spring 2016, following the DfT consultation on the Hendy Review which will include details of the plans for Theale Station.”

It remains to be seen if this revised delivery plan will be produced during “Spring 2016″.

In the meantime, Network Rail informed Theale’s Future that they are reviewing the existing designs to ensure compliance with current regulations, with the intention of updating the designs so the construction work can be put out to tender if Theale is confirmed as a scheme to be progressed before 2019.


Update: 7th March, 2016

Last week, Theale’s Future checked the progress made by Network Rail regarding the tendering process for the work to update Theale Station.

In the previous update from Network Rail back in October 2015, the expectation from Network Rail was that the tendering process would be complete by March 15th, and the work could be planned soon after.

But the project has been stalled yet again….

In June 2015 the Secretary of State for Transport received advice that the costs and timescales of some of Network Rail’s enhancement projects had increased beyond expectation. He appointed Sir Peter Hendy as the Chair of Network Rail and commissioned him to conduct a thorough review of the “Control Period 5″ (2014 to 2019) enhancements programme in England and Wales.

This review has been completed, and a report was published by Sir Peter Hendy in November 2015. You can read the report here.

hendy_report

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secretary of State for Transport is reported to approve of the findings, but a consultation has been opened to allow public feedback.

From the perspective of the Theale station upgrade, this project is part of the “Access for All” (“AfA”) project mentioned in the report. The report does not mention specific stations, but it states that the AfA is one of the “Projects with significant delivery in CP5 and completion in CP6″ (page 38).

So at the moment all we know is that the Theale station upgrade will be completed some time before the end of 2024!  (“Control Period 6″ runs from 2019 to 2024.)  But given the Theale station work is only a small part of the AfA project, it might be completed sooner.

Network Rail have recommended to us that we, the Theale community, provide our input into the consultation. The consultation can be found here).

Many of us want to see Theale station updated to make it a safer station. It might motivate the reviewers of the consultation if they could undrestand from us how the lack of the upgrade at our station is impacting the use of the station now. So please provide your feedback before the consultation ends on Friday, 18th March at 11.45pm.

Providing Your Feedback
You can provide feedback in the following ways:

Email: hendyconsultation@dft.gsi.gov.uk
Or in writing, to:

Hendy Consultation
4th Floor
Department for Transport
Great Minister House
33 Horseferry Road
London,
SW1P 4DR

The consultation requests the following information (as far as applicable):

  • Given name
  • Surname
  • Postcode (first half only)
  • Age Range 18-25; 26-38; 39-45; 46-55; 56-64; 65+
  • Reasons for Travel: Leisure/Commute/Business
  • Most frequently used route: From/To
  • Do you require reduced mobility access when travelling?

In addition to the above, it would be best to state that you are user of  Theale station.

Since learning of the above, Theale’s Future has contacted Alok Sharma, MP, in an attempt to encourage Network Rail to progress the work at Theale as soon as possible.


Update: 17th October, 2015

A response has been received from the Project Sponsor at Network Rail, the organisation now responsible for the construction of the lift and footbridge at Theale, following Theale’s Future’s request for the latest plans on 16th October (see previous diary entry, below).

Network Rail has stated that a great deal of work is planned to take place along the route between Reading and Newbury due to route modernisation and electrification, and considerable work will take place at Theale in particular. This includes platform extension and works to the existing road and pedestrian bridge to facilitate the electrification. With this in mind, Network Rail felt that they are in a better position than GWR to deliver the new bridge and lifta at Theale as they can co-ordinate this with their other projects (for which they are already responsible).

Their intention is to pick up the project where GWR have left it, and stated that there should be little or no change to the proposals that have previously been shared. As it has been a considerable time since GWR obtained the original prices for the work, Network Rail has said that they will have to perform a tender process, which means re-engaging with contractors to do the work, and obtain a fresh set of prices.

Network Rail expect this tendering exercise will be completed by March 2016, and hope that the successful contractor will be able to start on site soon after.

The Network Rail Sponsor promised that both NR and GWR are committed to this scheme which is “much needed and long awaited at Theale.”


Update: 16th October, 2015

After requesting a progress update from Great Western Railways (the renamed rail franchise previously called First Great Western), Theale’s Future received a response on 14th October.

Last week Network Rail advised GWR that they have undertaken a review of Access for All (AfA) work in the context of the electrification of the route and concluded that they are better placed to deliver the AfA improvements alongside their other projects. This means that GWR will no longer manage the lift installation at Theale.

I am sorry I have not got more positive news and understand that this will be very frustrating for you. However, I hope that the project will progress more quickly now that Network Rail have made this decision.

A request has now been made of Network Rail to advise of their plans for the installation of the new lift and bridge. There has been no progress on the lift and footbridge since Network Rail was re-classified as a public sector body on 1st September 2014. Funding was originally granted for the project in December 2011.


Update: 9th May, 2015

The new pedestrian entrance to the station just to the east of the new ticket office is now available for public use.

This new entrance will make it easier for people to travel to the buildings to the east of Brunel Road and Arlington Business Park, without having to negotiate the road traffic of the main station entrance. (Click on the images below to see them in full size.)

theale_station_2015_05_09_160525_small
The new entrance seen from within the station car park, to the right of the new ticket office.
theale_station_2015_05_09_160613_small
View of the new entrance looking from west to east (Brunel Road to the left of the photo)
View of the path from east to west (Brunel Road is on the right)
View of the path from east to west (Brunel Road is on the right)

 

 

View from the south side of Brunel Road looking north at the new entrance.
View from the south side of Brunel Road looking north at the new entrance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, there is no progress reported by First Great Western on the renewal of the legal agreement with Network Rail which would allow the construction of the new footbridge and lifts to be re-commence.


Update: 1st March, 2015

Three new shelters have now been completed. There are now two on Platform 2, which replace the old shelter, and three on Platform 1, including one new shelter:

Theale Station new shelters
Theale Station new shelters


Update: 5th February, 2015

A meeting took place today with representatives from Theale’s Future, Network Rail, First Great Western, West Berkshire Council (Transport) and West Berkshire Councillor for Theale, Alan Macro.

Status of Lifts and Bridge

Network Rail and First Great Western elaborated on the reason for the lack of progress at the station and the lack of communication. The lack of progress was caused by Network Rail being re-classified as a public sector body. (Details here.) This means that Network Rail now has much tighter regulations when negotiating contracts with other companies. Because of this, any contracts between Network Rail and First Great Western required a review by legal teams from both companies. This process has been underway since before Christmas, and it is hoped that the review can be ratified over the next few weeks.

Once the agreement between Network Rail and First Great Western has been reached, First Great Western can begin to plan the booking of the line to enable the planning of the construction of the lifts and bridge. The overall duration of the work at the station is anticipated to take approximately 40 weeks from start to finish, which can be affected by other works in the area (making the overall duration either longer or shorter).

Other Works at and around the Station

  • The ticket office and retail outlet building is almost complete, and should be fully complete within a matter of days. The ticket office will not open until the new lifts and bridge are installed, but if a retailer is interested in opening the outlet beforehand, this could be a possibility.
  • An additional shelter will be added to each platform.
  • The new entrance ramp on Brunel Road was discussed. Despite the delay in the main body of work at the station, the new entrance could be opened beforehand, making it easier and safer for commuters to Arlington Business Park and Brunel Road. First Great Western and West Berkshire Council are to look into progressing this item.
  • New “Wayfinder” signs are also due to be installed at the Station and other sites in Theale. Work on this is due to be completed by the end of March 2015. West Berkshire Council are running this project.
  • Brunel Road and Station Road will also benefit from replacement street lighting, again implemented by West Berkshire Council.

Electification

A separate project from the upgrade to Theale Station, the railway line through Theale is due to have electrification technology installed. This is due to take place towards the end of 2015. More details of the project can be found here.


Update: 26th January, 2015

Following the meeting of 16th September 2014 with First Great Western, there was a commitment made to provide regular progress updates on the works to upgrade the station. Regretfully these updates were not provided as promised, despite persistent requests from Theale’s Future since the first update was due in mid October.

After several weeks of silence in response to requests for updates, Theale’s Future wrote to Reading MP Alok Sharma early in December requesting his influence in obtaining a response. On 17th December Theale’s Future received a response from FGW explaining the reason for the lack of progress at Theale.

A face-to-face meeting between Theale’s Future, First Great Western and West Berkshire Council is planned for early February.


Update: 19th September, 2014

Representatives from First Great Western and West Berkshire Council attended the Theale’s Future Annual General Meeting on 16th September, and provided an update on the project at Theale Station. The presentation circulated at the meeting, which includes planning diagrams and pictures, can be viewed here.

In brief, as anyone using the station might have observed, the work to complete the station during the autumn has not progressed as quickly as expected. This is because there have been some unforeseen issues, not least of which was the discovery – and need to divert – a large waste water pipe around the new station building. Also, because of other works in the Theale area, such as the electrification project, it has been difficult to book control of the area around Theale station to progress with the work. (The vaious projects are undertaken by contractors, and each contractor has the relevant land/track assigned to them so they can work. If a one contractor has land assigned to them, they do not want to take the risk of allowing anyone else onto the land while they are responsible for it.)

Because of these factors, the work has not been able to progress as planned. The latest timeline for the project is for work to re-commence during October 2014, and for all work to be completed by the end of July 2015.
First Great Western was also able to provide an update on works which will take place and the facilities which will be available in addition to the new lifts, bridge, ticket office and retail unit:

  • Replace shelters on all platforms
  • New Ticket Vending Machine in area of lift bridge
  • Additional cycle parking
  • Clearly marked walkways around the site
  • New pedestrian entrance and crossing point across Brunel Road
  • Vegetation clearance
  • Clear signage to link with Theale village centre, Arlington Business Park and other key destinations

Retail Unit
Details are now available regarding the retail unit. Below is a plan view of the unit – not to scale – with dimensions included:

Theale Station retail unit
If you – or someone you know – might be interested in running the retail unit, First Great Western would be keen to hear from you. The unit will have services. Please contact the FGW Project Manager, Sarah McManus (Sarah.McManus@firstgroup.com) if you want to explore the options.

Wayfinding Signage
Jenny Graham from the transport team at West Berkshire Council provided a presentation of the Wayfinder signage which has been created for Newbury, and is interested to hear from anyone in Theale who might like to share their views for a similar set of signage for Theale. If you are interested, please contact her (JGraham@westberks.gov.uk). The presentation can be viewed by clicking on the image below:
Theale Station Project


Update: 11th June, 2014

A meeting took place on Thursday 29th May with representatives from West Berkshire Council, Theale Parish Council, First Great Western, Network Rail and Theale’s Future, where the latest status of the Theale Station Upgrade project was provided.
There is good news, in that the financial contraint which was preventing the work at the station from being completed (i.e lack of sufficient funding) has been removed, thanks to the Department for Transport authorising the additional budget required to complete the work during the 2014/15 financial year.
First Great Western informed the group that the work should be completed – with the new lifts, ticket office and shop becoming operational – during the autumn of 2014. The precise dates are yet to be provided, but once we have them we will pass them on.
With the arrival of the retail outlet at the new station building comes an opportunity for a business venture. The retail outlet does not yet have a tenant, and this could be an opportunity for someone, perhaps an existng local business, to consider. First Great Western will be providing a specification of the retail space, and once we have this, the information and appropriate contact details can be passed on. In the meantime, perhaps anyone interested in taking on a retail space can keep this opportunity in mind.
In addition to the station upgrade, there was a short update on another project due to influence the rail traffic at Theale: the Electrifiction Project. Currently the project team are investigating the options as to how they will implement the electrification infrastructure along the track at Theale, with special consideration for the existing road bridge at the western end of the station. This work is planned to take place in 2015.


Update: 22nd September, 2013

A consultation event is planned for Thursday 26th September from 4.00pm until 8.00pm at Theale Station with participation from West Berkshire Council, First Great Western and Network Rail. This will be an opportunity for the community and passengers to understand the plans for the development of the railway station over the coming months.


Update: 15th May, 2013

A meeting took place on 13th May where the latest information was shared. The following parties were present:

  • Alok sharma, MP for Reading West
  • Theale Parish Council
  • West Berkshire Council
  • Alan Macro, Councillor for Theale
  • First Great Western
  • Network Rail
  • Theale’s Future

This collective was for convenience named the “Theale Station Liaison Group”.

The Prior Approval planning of the application for the footbridge and lifts (reference: 13/00434/PAD56) was approved by West Berkshire Council on 30th April 2013, and the process of producing the detailed design is underway. It is thought that this will be completed in June 2013.

The improvements at the station will be developed in two streams.

  • New footbridge and lifts
  • New ticket office and other facilities

Most focus is currently being given to the new footbridge and lifts, as the process for its construction is more stringent and longer in duration than for the ticket office (which would be handled as a permitted development from a planning perspective, not requiring planning permission).

In addition to the ticket office, there will be a waiting room and additional ticket vending machine also located near the new footbridge at the easterly (Reading) end of the station. A new access will be created from Brunel Road to the east of the station allowing passengers travelling to Arlington Business Park a shorter route to the new facilities.

Provision of a shop or cafe could not yet be confirmed, as there are multiple sources of funding and West Berkshire Council needs to validate what can be provided using the funding.

The existing access to the platforms from the road bridge in Station Road will remain in place, as will the current ticket vending machine.

The anticipated timescales are as follows:

  • Work to start: October 2013
  • Lift and bridge installation: December 2013
  • Construction of ticket office: January 2014
  • Project completion: February 2014

Below are some of the diagrams used during the planning process which were shared by First Great Western. Click on the image to see the full document. Please note that the diagrams below are not to scale.

Theale Station Project

Fig 1. – View from above and from Reading (top and east elevations)
Theale Station Project

Fig 2. – View from car park to footbridge (north elevation)
Here are all the elevations of the footbridge shared by First Great Western:


Update: 16th March, 2013

The planned completion date for the delivery of the lifts and bridge is now December 2013. This has slipped from the previous expected completion date of late summer, which was provided in November 2012. The planned completion for the new ticket office / station building is also anticipated to be December 2013.

West Berkshire Council’s Development Control Department is expecting the formal “prior notification application” for the lifts and bridge from Network Rail soon. Below are computer generated drawings that have been sent to the council and have been authorised to be published. We should state that these images are indicative only, and not part of any formal planning application. (Once we are advised of the planning application, we will advise you on this web page.)

To orientate you, the intention is for the new bridge with lifts to be created at the eastern end of the platforms, with the existing steps from Station Road (which is at the west end of the platforms) remaining in place.

Theale Station seen west to east

Fig 1. – Impression of Theale station viewed from west to east
Theale station viewed from the south to north

Fig 2. – Impression of the eastern end of Theale station seen from south to north
You may spot a building in the above images which is all the council has seen in relation to a new station building / ticket office. The council is yet to receive any specific plans relating to the building and what will be incorporated but West Berkshire council has specified its requirements to First Great Western: increased facilities including waiting area, toilet facilities, a cafe / refreshment stop, etc.

West Bershire Council has also been putting forward what it wants to achieve in terms of safe pedestrian and cycle access to and circulation around the site. The Highways & Transport Service at the Council have designed a proposed new pedestrian entrance to the station from Brunel Road at the eastern end of the car park to link in with the new lifts and bridge and station building.

We will update you as progress occurs.

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