Plans to refurbish the ‘awful’ Reading Station underpass and allow cyclists in it have been proposed by the council.

Reading Borough Council want to install LED lights, remove the ceiling panels and tidy the existing concrete.

The alley, which has not been updated since 2013, would become part of the town’s cycling routes, though all changes are subject to a statutory public consultation.

“Regular users of the underpass will also know that these panels are regularly vandalised, which is another good reason for progressing these improvements,” said Tony Page, Reading Council’s Lead Councillor for Climate Strategy and Transport.

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“It’s fair to say the prohibition of cycling through this underpass has long been an issue with local campaigners

“I am pleased therefore that the Council is now in a position to consult on the option to remove the prohibition order.”

The proposal to consult will be discussed at the Traffic Management Sub-Committee next Wednesday (September 14).

 “If the consultation is agreed at committee next week we will publicise how people can have their say, at which point any objections will return to councillors for consideration.”

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The Reading Station Subway was opened to maintain the north-south pedestrian link through the station when it was redeveloped by Network Rail.

Engineering constraints at the time meant the subway construction included a low suspended ceiling. A Cycling Prohibition Order was subsequently put in place due to height and width clearances being substandard and for the safety of cyclists.

Last month Councillor Harry Kretchmer called the underpass "truly awful" in a tweet to Network Rail and the council.  

Both the Council and cycling groups have been keen to find a solution that would unblock the barrier and enable safe cycling through this key strategic route, according to Reading Borough Council.

The Council has commissioned a feasibility report on allowing cycling by using section 106 planning agreement funding to remove the lowest ceiling panels and tidy the existing concrete ceiling.

The headroom, although still below national guidelines, would allow the Council to accept the position and revoke the historic Cycling Prohibition Order.