This December will see the long arm of Transport for London (TfL) extending out to Reading as it takes over services from GWR between Paddington and Reading.
This is all part of the ramp-up for the delayed Elizabeth line, and TfL will run four trains per hour under the TfL Rail brand between Reading and Paddington from Sunday 15th December.
There’s no change to the service frequency though as this is a direct replacement of the existing GWR service with the TfL rail one — albeit with the new Elizabeth line trains.
Some fast services will continue to be operated by GWR from Reading, Twyford, Maidenhead and Slough to Paddington.
Although travelcard zones do not apply to stations beyond West Drayton, for the first time, customers will be able to use pay as you go with contactless across the route all the way from Paddington mainline to Reading.
However, contactless ticketing will not come into effect until the annual fares revision on 2nd January 2020, and Oyster pay as you go won’t be introduced at all beyond West Drayton, due to limitations with the system, which is now more than 15 years old.
Between 15 December 2019 and 2 January 2020, existing ticketing arrangements will apply and TfL Rail fares will remain at the same price as the current GWR fares. However, in line with TfL’s wider policies, children under 11 who are accompanied by an adult, as well as customers who are eligible for the Freedom Pass, will be able to travel for free to Reading on the new TfL service.
Once introduced, adult pay as you go fares to/from stations between Iver and Reading are anticipated to be cheaper or in line with standard single and return fares along the line. All fares will be set in line with Department for Transport policy and confirmed nearer the time.
TfL expects that GWR will also offer pay as you go with contactless on their services from 2 January 2020.
Station improvement work is being delivered by TfL and Network Rail at all stations between Paddington mainline and Reading including lifts providing step-free access, new station entrances, improved customer information systems, signage and waiting rooms. At Langley and Taplow stations, new passenger bridges across the tracks have been put in place, and, at Iver, all three lift shafts have now been installed, with the station on course to become step-free by March 2020. In the build-up to taking over services, platform lengths have also been extended along the line to cater for the new trains that will serve the line.
Network Rail will be undertaking some Christmas engineering work between Tuesday 24 December and Friday 27 December, a reduced service will run on the Tuesday and Friday with replacement buses between Slough and Hillingdon. There will be no service on the entire line on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.