Commuters are being warned of big changes to train services between Reading and London Paddington.
Passengers will see major changes to how trains are run on the key route, from new timetables and contactless payments, to more frequent trains and extra seating.
The shake up is being billed as the biggest timetable change on the network since 1976.
The news comes as half of trains running between Reading and London Paddington will be taken over by Transport For London (TfL) ahead of Crossrail’s Elizabeth Line extending to the town.
All trains are currently run by the Great Western Railway (GWR).
Passengers are also warned timetables from Reading Station to London Paddington will also change as GWR alters its services.
Howard Smith, operations director for TfL Rail, said: “Starting TfL Rail services to Reading is another step towards opening London’s new railway, the Elizabeth line.
“Customers will see staff at every station, and improvements being made to stations along the route including the installation of lifts to provide step-free access, they will also be able to enjoy the convenience of pay as you go contactless payments all the way to Reading.”
GWR will continue to operate services between Reading and London Paddington calling at intermediate station stops, with many extending to Didcot and being formed of 12 carriages during evening rush hour.
These trains will dovetail with TfL’s stopping services to provide an improved overall service able to carry more passengers.
New Intercity Express Trains already operating between Reading and London Paddington will be faster.
The changes will be introduced on Sunday, December 15.
GWR has promised thousands more seats on trains as it reconfigures the services it provides.
Trains that would serve the fast service to London Paddington will be deployed across its network, meaning more seats for passengers.
TfL will provide the fast services from Reading to Paddington.
Paul Britton, chief executive of the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce said: “An extra 10,000 seats in the morning peak into London Paddington is great news for businesses in the Thames Valley and London.
“Updated technology, new facilities and reduced journey times for business travellers and commuters will allow them to use their time more effectively.”
GWR is undergoing its biggest change to its timetable since 1976.
Transport for London (TfL) will be taking on half of the fast services from Reading to Paddington.
Under TfL, the current service of four trains per hour during peak times between Reading and Paddington will be maintained using the new Elizabeth line trains when they are phased in.
Two trains will continue to run an hour during off-peak.
Some fast services will continue to be operated by GWR from Reading, Twyford, Maidenhead and Slough to Paddington.
The changes coming to stations in Berkshire
There will be significant changes to the stopping services at Reading Station from December 15.
TfL will take over most stopping services between London Paddington and Reading ahead of the arrival of Crossrail, so trains will look different as they will be the ones which run on the Elizabeth Line.
Ultimately, there will be more trains on inter city routes from this station, however, some inter city trains will no longer stop in Reading.
GWR will no longer run evening peak fast trains to London Paddington, these will be run by TfL.
Not all the new trains (Elizabeth Line) will stop at Reading or Swindon – so you’ll need to make sure you’re on the right train.
Improved journey times
New Intercity Express trains already operating between Reading and London Paddington will be faster with journey times reduced by up to eight minutes to 22 minutes.
Changes to Basingstoke services
Passengers travelling between Reading and Basingstoke will get more seats as an extra train is added to the route during peak times.
Around 250 seats will be added when a third train during rush hour is added to the route.
However, GWR will continue to operate an off-peak half hourly stopping service between London and Didcot Parkway.
Passengers on ‘local service’ trains will see the timetable change considerably.
Changes to Newbury services
On the Reading to Newbury route, passengers will benefit from an increase to three trains an hour and journey times will be improved by five minutes.
Oxford, Marlow and Bourne End changes
There will be fewer evening peak fast services to Oxford and the North Cotswolds.
Some of the inter city trains will be operated by TfL.
Also, trains to Bourne End and Marlow will be re-timed to improve connections.
Berkshire Traffic And Travel
Some trains will be run by TfL.
GWR will continue to operate an off-peak half hourly stopping service between London and Didcot Parkway.
A new half-hourly train will run non-stop to London Paddington during peak times in the morning.
Fast off-peak trains between London and Oxford will be re-timed.
Some trains will be run by TfL.
GWR continue to operate an off-peak half hourly stopping service between London and Didcot Parkway.
Timing for trains to Bourne End and Marlow will be altered to improve connections.
However, passengers at Maidenhead will lose the evening peak fast trains to London Paddington.
On the popular Reading to Newbury route, passengers will benefit from an increase to three trains an hour.
They will also see an improvement in journey times of around five minutes.
And there will be a more consistent service throughout the day with up to two fast services an hour running through to London Paddington.
There will be an hourly fast train to London stopping in Reading only.
If you’re heading west travelling beyond Exeter to Devon and Cornwall you will need to change at Exeter St Davids. However, overall journey times will remain similar.
There will be no significant changes to services at Newbury Racecourse.
Contactless payments and ticket prices
Passengers will be able to pay contactless when travelling from Reading to Paddington on TfL trains, but they’ll have to wait until next year.
The contactless ticketing will come into force on Thursday, January 2, 2020.
Between December 15 and Thursday, January 2, 2020, existing ticket rules will apply and remain at the same price as GWR fares.
Prices are due to go up on some journeys in January in line with inflation.
For example, an annual season ticket from Reading to London Terminals today, it would cost you £4,604.
However rise in inflation means that price could rise by £129 to £4,733 from January.
Children under the age of 11 who are travelling with adults and customers with the Freedom Pass scheme will be able to travel for free to Reading.
The Freedom Pass scheme applies for those aged 60 and over or who have a disability.
TfL also predicts adult pay as you go fares to and from stations between Reading and Iver will be cheaper or in line with standard single and return fares on the line.
Despite the new ticketing regime, Oyster Cards will not apply beyond West Drayton.
GWR’s fleet of 12 carriage Class 387 electric trains will run between Reading to London Paddington at evening peak time, many of these services will extend to Didcot.
GWR is promising faster journey times on the reduced non-stop services between Reading and London Paddington.
It has promised journey times will consistently be 22 minutes, compared to between 25 and 30 minutes at present.
When the Elizabeth Line opens, trains run by TfL will have a distinctive white, navy and purple livery.
TfL has promised upgrades to all stations between Paddington and Reading alongside Network Rail.
Improvements include step-free access, new station entrances, improved customer information systems, signage and waiting rooms.
At Langley and Taplow stations, new bridges above the tracks will be made, and at Iver, all three lift shafts have been installed, with the station on course to become step-free by March 2020.
Platforms have also been extended to accommodate the new longer trains that will run.