LAST week I received the excellent news that First Great Western is creating additional standard class seating on 21 of its 78 turbo services by declassifying one of the two areas of first class seating on these trains.

This is very good news for my commuting constituents and I am particularly pleased since I have been raising this matter in debate in Parliament and in conversations with Ministers and senior FGW employees for some time. There is nothing more depressing than having to stand in a crowded standard class carriage when one can see that first class is virtually empty and this decision is a victory for common sense.

FGW tell me that they expect to be able to improve capacity further on their network once discussions with the Department for Transport (DFT) to introduce an additional fleet of electric trains have been completed. Roll on the extra trains.

Having lobbied hard and successfully with local organisations such as Theale’s Future and local councils for the £2.9m of Government funding to improve facilities at Theale Station, I was delighted to attend a public consultation at the station some days ago which allowed passengers to see and discuss the improvement plans. The aim is to have the work completed next year and the improvements will make a big positive difference for commuters.

Sticking to the railways theme, the new Reading station rebuild is coming along nicely.

Having made the case, with others, for some of the funding streams it is pleasing to see the latest developments. But I have always wondered, even before I was elected as an MP, whether it was a little short-sighted of the last government not to have Crossrail coming out to Reading. My message to Ministers is absolutely clear, if there is now a viable business case for it then of course Crossrail should be extended to Reading.

As my constituents in Calcot will know, West Berkshire Council has been awarded funding from the DFT to carry out highway improvements on the A4 between Royal Avenue and Langley Hill. The scheme will involve the widening of the A4 to allow the construction of an additional westbound traffic lane, towards the M4, and lane improvements eastbound.

I am holding a public meeting for local residents on Friday, October 25, at 7 pm to allow them to understand the details of the proposal. If you live in Calcot and want to attend please email me at