Fri, 15 Feb 2019
THEALE Station is finally about to receive much-needed upgrades following an £8.6m investment.
The station will benefit from a new pedestrian bridge and lifts, a 100-bike cycle hub, electric vehicle charging points and a 366- space car park.
The plans will also see the new ticket office finally brought into use and deliver new waiting shelters for passengers.
A joint bid from West Berkshire Council and Great Western Railway (GWR) to improve the station was signed off last week.
The project will be funded from £4m through the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (TVB LEP); £4m from Network Rail; £450,000 from the council of ring-fenced funds, plus a further £20,000 from West Berkshire Council via other bids.
Theale’s district councillor Alan Macro (Lib Dem) said: "It’s good news for the commuters from Theale because I think a lot of them walk to the station.
“This is going to mean more car parking for people who drive and that’s the disadvantage, if you like, because it means more traffic through Theale as people will cut through the village rather than go through the bypass.”
Proposals to upgrade the station were first discussed in 2013, but have been hit by a series of setbacks.
The council and GWR bid for the station was initially rejected as it scored below the TVB LEP’s requirements for imminent funding.
However, with the Reading Mass Rapid Transit scheme now facing its own delays, Theale has been bumped up the list as the next worthy project.
Work will need to start by March 2021 to comply with the conditions of the funding.
Initial plans also include the installation of solar panels, with GWR estimating that 114 panels would enable the station to become carbon neutral electronically.
West Berkshire’s executive member for highways and transport Jeanette Clifford (Con, Northcroft) said: “We are delighted that this opportunity has opened up and that we are in a position to be able to take it forward.
“It will have a powerful effect on the station, enabling it to become a significant interchange and park and rail site and also the area around it.
“This investment will help to provide the long-term benefits of more jobs and housing which are vital to grow and to future-proof economic prosperity.”
Arlington Business Park manager Amy Coles gave her support in a recent letter to TVB LEP.
She said: “An improved station will assist attracting more employment to Theale and supporting the local economy.
“There is vacant space within our buildings which, if fully let, would lead to the employment of up to 1,500 additional people.”