Network Rail has secured government approval and funding for a £68M upgrade of Reading station, it was revealed this week.
The leader of Reading Borough Council, David Sutton, confirmed that transport minister Doug Alexander is to formally announce the decision in two weeks.Reading's railway station is the second busiest outside London and is a major bottleneck for trains travelling between London, the South West and Wales. A plan to add track capacity and platforms was identified by Network Rail chief executive John Armitt as one of the three most critical projects on the network (NCE
8 March).Fears that the scheme would be axed emerged when it failed to win a slice of the government's Transport Innovation Fund cash last summer (NCE
29 June 2006). The news will be a boost for supporters of Armitt's two other priority schemes, Thameslink and Birmingham New Street.A formal bid for the Reading scheme was submitted in March last year by the Reading Station Partnership Board and this has now won approval, said Sutton, speaking at the international property fair, MIPIM, in Cannes. He added that Reading was to get more good news on Monday when the council is to receive sufficient evidence to overturn a legal challenge blocking plans to improve the town's inner distributor road.These schemes, combined with the recently approved rebuild of junction 11 of the M4, 'will act as major catalysts for regeneration', said Sutton.