In this week's column, Jason Brock, the leader of Reading Borough Council, updates the public on the railway station upgrades in Reading, which are taking place at Tilehurst,

There are a lot of benefits to travelling by train. You can sit back and read, do some work on your laptop, catch up on emails or just look out the window and take in the view as you speed along to your destination.

It is not, however, always as smooth as that, and significant investment is needed in our railway network to improve the experience for the millions of us who use it.

We are fortunate enough to have four railway stations in the borough (and several more just beyond our formal boundaries, but in the urban area). As such, the Council has been a vocal advocate for Reading’s rail users.

We have worked with Network Rail, Great Western Railway, and Department for Transport on the major upgrade of Reading Station, the creation of a new station in Green Park, and improvement to existing local stations.

The latest project to get under way in Reading is the installation of three lifts at Tilehurst station.

Residents have been waiting a long time for this upgrade which will be hugely welcome by travellers who have mobility issues, parents with pushchairs and passengers with heavy luggage or shopping.

READ MORE: Dates set to finally add lifts to Tilehurst train station

There may be some noise disturbance for nearby households, but Network Rail contractors should keep this to a minimum and have written to neighbours with more details about the schedule. The benefits of this project should be enjoyed by all passengers by later in the year.

Meanwhile, we are waiting for Network Rail to receive official approval to go ahead and open the new station building at Reading West.

The smart new building on Oxford Road contains a ticket office, toilets, and retail space. The project has also delivered new ticket gates, improved lighting, and CCTV cameras to significantly improve safety and security.

Unfortunately, the project has not included the installation of passenger lifts, which has been a long-term ambition of the Council.

Network Rail tells us that the installation of lifts at Reading West would involve rebuilding the train platforms which currently makes the work prohibitively costly for them.

However, the latest station upgrade has been ‘future proofed’ for the installation of lifts in the future, and we will continue to lobby government, our local MPs, and Network Rail for funding to deliver new platforms and lifts to make Reading West station accessible to all as soon as possible.

In May last year we saw the opening of Reading’s first new railway station since Reading West opened in 1906. Green Park Station provides an excellent travel choice for local residents, commuters, and football fans going to the home of Reading FC.

READ MORE: Council leader celebrates opening of Green Park Station

The Council has also recently invested in local bus services to make it even easier for people to get to and from Green Park. Ultimately, we want to make multi-mode public transport as easy as possible – the full benefits of reducing congestion won’t be realised if people need to drive to railway stations to complete their journey.

These big projects can have their challenges and do not always happen as quickly as we would wish, but the Council remains committed to working with our rail partners and to push for continued improvements to Reading’s stations and train services.