COUNCILLORS say they were 'backed into a corner' after Network Rail threatened to remove the pedestrian bridge from Reading West Station.

The rail company wanted to reconstruct the current bridge to push forward plans for electrification works between Reading and Newbury.

Members of the council's planning committee heard from residents, who felt the taller structure would blight their lives.

Councillor Tony Page, deputy leader of the council, expressed his frustration at the scheme and said the residents had not been taken into consideration.

He added: "It is a pity that Network Rail and the Government have let this [electrification] collapse into chaos.

"I think it is unfair to say that if we oppose this application we oppose electrification."

The decision to reject the application means the bridge will be removed later this month and rail passengers will be forced to use 'stepped access.'

Cllr Page added: "We have a track record of working closely with Network Rail in delivering one of the country's largest investment projects in Reading Station.

"That was such a success because we were treated as an equal partner. Had a similar partnership approach been adopted, I would venture to suggest we would not be in this position. But we are where we are.

Reading Chronicle: Deputy council leader Cllr Tony Page

"In all my time on this authority it has given me great satisfaction to work with Network Rail on Reading Station. It would have been so much better if we could have seen a similar approach to this Cinderella station."

Other members felt Reading West had been neglected and asked why the plans had not included the installation of a lift for disabled users.

Council officers suggested that the plans be refused due to the 'overbearing' nature of the new bridge.

Network Rail says the existing bridge does not provide the appropriate clearance for the overhead power lines required to set-up the electrification at Reading West.

A spokesman added: “We will proceed to remove the existing footbridge in June as it is not safety compliant for an electrified railway, as we will shortly be installing the overhead electric wires needed to power electric trains..

"We will also proceed with the additional stepped access from Oxford Road to Platform 1. This work forms part of our railway upgrade plan to electrify and modernise the Great Western Mainline.

“We will then have further discussions with the Department for Transport, local council, train operator, station users and local residents regarding options for a replacement footbridge at this station in the future.”