MOTORISTS and shoppers can sign up to receive text messages updating them on engineering work in a busy Reading street.

Thames Water engineers start work on Monday to repair a collapsed sewer in Blagrave Street, which is expected to cause disruption until November, but a new SMS service set up today means people can receive messages with live updates and warnings of any disruption.

Head of programme delivery at Thames Water, Andy Popple, said: "We know this is a very disruptive project which is right in the middle of town so we wanted to try a new way of communicating with people about things that might impact their day-to-day lives.

"If the traffic around the site gets particularly bad we can send out a message warning people so they choose a different route before they get stuck - or if we have to work late into the night for some reason, we can warn people in advance.

"We will also be able to tell people when we are nearly finished, and to let them know when the bus routes will reopen.

"It's just another way of trying to minimise the inconvenience we cause to people when we have to dig up the street."

The sewer collapsed six months ago and Reading's leader for regeneration, transport and planning, Cllr Tony Page, said: "These are important and unavoidable works and I'm pleased to see Thames Water finding new and innovative ways to keep residents, town centre businesses and commuters up to speed as they progress.

"I'm also pleased to see the works get under way now to ensure they are finished as quickly as possible and so that there is no effect on Christmas trading in the town centre later this year."

To suscribe, text Blagrave to 80007.