Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Reading Railway Rebuild Recce [2]

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A heart-warming tale
When Martin Allaway (37) and Stephanie Povey (30) got married on 1st June, they had a special form of transport laid on to get their guests to their reception venue in Gosport

The couple hired an Eclipse BRT bus for the occasion, treating their guests to the utmost luxury as they made the eight-mile journey from the Alverstoke Evangelical Church to Bay House School for the reception, and then on to Bridgemary College for the evening celebration.

[Shame - why not a better view of the whole bus? Those people in posh gear get in the way of the lovely shiny vehicle!]

Chosen because the colour of the bus matched the colour-scheme of the wedding**, Martin couldn’t think of a more perfect way for his guests to arrive. Talking about it, he said: “Stephanie and I use the Eclipse BRT route all the time, to travel between Bridgemary and Fareham Railway Station. When we started thinking about our wedding, and particularly how we would get our guests from one venue to another, the Eclipse service immediately sprang to mind."

[** Matching colour scheme? Evening Celebration? Whatever happened to "Wedding, Nosh, Change of Clobber and Honeymoon"? Apparently you have to have fireworks now! No wonder weddings are now more expensive that a semi-detached house. And the bus colour doesn't really match the missus' posh frock; "barbie" pink might have been better.]
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fbb's recent visit to Reading ...
Returning to the Island from Birmingham, fbb chose a Crosscoutry train terminating at Reading which, helpfully pulled into one of the brand new platforms built to the north of the existing station. Constructed in the currently-fashinable grey everything, the whole impression was of a a vast improvement on the previous tired and inadequate buildings.

Signs were helpful ...
... seen here on the door of the small and somewhat spartan waiting room. A few yards further on, you come to the most obvious and dramatic feature of the new station, namely a huge passenger footbridge ...
... dwarfing the trains below. On the way, fbb spotted the signage for the brand new north entrance (right centre) ...
Within this greyness is a booking office ...
... and the now usual banks of pedestrian inconveniencing and irritating barriers.

Even the north-entrance staircase was designed to be a dramatic piece of industrial art!
And so up to the footbridge, if such  vast space can be demeaned by such a prosaic name. It is vast, huge,  cathedral-like and dramatic. It even has a Starbucks coffee shop almost lost in its Saharan emptiness.
An even huger bank of stairs and escalators leads to the additional southern exit ...
click to enlarge the picture

... and here there is disappointment. The old cramped booking hall is advertised as being untouched. When fbb was previously in Reading, there had been disruption due to a signal failure and the ticket office area was utterly swamped with confused passengers. Unless there are plans for a bigger ticket office, all the new magnificence will be negated but the same-old, same-old booking hall scrum.

One oddity caused fbb to wonder.
The original 1860 station, now a pub and a listed building, stands dwarfed by the grey vastness of the new. Frankly, it just looks silly! fbb wonders whether there would have been a better way of retaining the fabric of the old within a more sensitive development of the new.

And one little titter.
The former multi-storey car park exit (once leading to a now-demolished footbridge) on the fourth level seems an ill-advised route to take, despite the helpful signs.
fbb hopes that the doors are firmly locked!

Despite these minor niggles, the station IS truly magnificent and well worth a visit.

 Next Bus Blog : Thursday 6th June 

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