Thu, 08 Oct 2020
Alok Sharma (third from left) at Theale rail station.
Plans for a major investment in two West Berkshire railway stations have been praised by Conservative MP Alok Sharma.
Theale and Tilehurst stations are among those set to benefit from the £18m investment.
Expanded car parks and enhanced accessibility are included in the planned upgrades.
The funding from the Department for Transport is to be shared between Network Rail, Great Western Railway, Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership and West Berkshire Council.
Work is scheduled to begin in 2021.
Theale and Tilehurst are both within Mr Sharma's Reading West constituency.
The MP – currently Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – was pivotal in securing funding for the improvements.
He said: "I recently met with representatives from the partner organisations at Theale station to discuss the planned improvements and to see the newly-developed ticket office at the site.
"Having raised these issues on behalf of constituents over many years, I am delighted that passengers at Theale and Tilehurst stations will benefit hugely from the improvements that are under way and I am delighted that funding has been made available by the Department for Transport to ensure this has been possible."
Network Rail Western Route director Mike Gallop said: "Following our meeting with Alok Sharma MP and the minister last year I am really glad to see the funding being made available by the Department for Transport so we can deliver these improvements.
"An enhanced travel experience is at the heart of us welcoming passengers back to the railways."
West Berkshire Council executive member for transport and countryside Richard Somner (Con, Tilehurst South and Holybrook) said: "West Berkshire Council are delighted with the upgrades to these stations – in particular at Theale and Tilehurst – as this will improve connectivity and access for our residents to the east of the district, adding to the user's experience and enhancing our public transport options.
"These developments are encouraging and we can build on the improvements already made, to further enhance our public transport capability."
Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) chief executive Alison Webster said: "The LEP has already invested nearly £30m of its Local Growth Funds directly into rail projects across the county – building on Berkshire's already strong connectivity.
"We are delighted to be partners in the Theale station project and have provided £4m towards this important upgrade.
"As part of our planning for a green economic recovery from Covid-19, LEP funding is also supporting other sustainable transport options which will further enhance local connectivity and encourage people to have confidence to get back on to public transport and away from individual car use."