COMMUTERS are being warned to allow extra time to catch their trains this week when a pedestrian bridge linking platforms and the multi-storey car park at Reading Station is closed.
Part of the bridge will be shut from Friday this week to enable engineers to continue work on platforms being built as part of the station's flagship �860m revamp.
Marshals will operate a diversion from the car park's ground floor to Station Hill and Brunel Arcade via a gleaming new subway, but a small section of the bridge will remain open between platforms.
Network Rail deputy programme director Jim Weeden urged passengers taking the detour to allow an extra 15 minutes for their journeys and added: "We have to do this because the current bridge sits in the way of new platforms which have to be finished by April, so it has to be removed. We are sorry for any inconvenience to passengers."
The subway, which includes CCTV cameras and lighting, will reduce congestion by enabling non-passengers to cross from one side of the station to the other without having to enter the station forecourts.
The Reading Borough Council-maintained passageway will eventually lead to bus stops, taxi ranks, cycle spaces and a public square, due to open in July at the station's northern interchange.
Council transport leader Cllr Tony Page said: "The re-opening of the newly refurbished subway underneath the station will provide an important route into the town centre for people approaching the station from the northern side. Work is fast taking shape and I am sure residents and passengers using the station will appreciate these major improvements."
The will also be a series of major service disruptions from Thursday, March 28, to Sunday, April 7, while engineers make final adjustments to the two of the entrances, the main passenger bridge and four new platforms before opening them to the public.
The Reading Station project, set to double capacity, also features new signalling, overhead electrical lines, a new traincare centre and a viaduct separating express trains from slower freight services. It is set to be completed in 2015, a year ahead of schedule.
First Great Western managing director Mark Hopwood said: "While some journeys are likely to take longer than normal, our focus is making sure people can still get to where they want to go over the period."
See www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk for details of diversions and alternative transport services in place.