WORK to transform Theale station is set to begin in October.

The �2.9m improvements include a new ticket office, footbridge and lifts, as well as a car park and a new pedestrian entrance, and the work is expected to be finished by February.

Reading West MP Alok Sharma met representatives from Theale Parish Council, campaign group Theale's Future, West Berkshire Council, First Great Western and Network Rail on Monday, May 13, to discuss the plans.

He said: "Together with the Theale's Future organisation, I lobbied hard to win funding for the upgrade to Theale Station and so I am very pleased to hear about the progress being made with the project.

"In addition to the recent makeover received by Pangbourne Station and the billion pound investment in Reading Station, the improvements to Theale Station will be yet another example of how Reading is benefiting from the biggest rail modernisation programme since the Victorian era."

Money has come from West Berkshire and Reading Borough councils' joint bid to the Department for Transport's Local Sustainable Transport Fund.

West Berkshire Council's transport policy leader, Cllr Hilary Cole, said: "We worked hard to secure �1.127m via the Government's Local Sustainable Transport fund so that local people and businesses can benefit from these improvements without cost to the local tax payer."

Reading's transport and planning leader, Cllr Tony Page, added: "I'm delighted that Reading Council has been able to lead a successful partnership involving West Berkshire and Wokingham, which has been responsible for securing major improvements to Theale and Reading stations, all of which helps the case for wider investment in the local economy."

Amanda Hoyland, Network Rail's route enhancement manager, said: "Improving access to stations is an important part of building a bigger and better railway."