28 February, 2014
After well over a year of work, delays and changes to the initial plans, the official opening of Wokingham's new train station has yet to take place. The station had been set to open its doors on February 9 but, in typical fashion, was made to wait as adverse weather ripped through the Berkshire town.
The building was expected to be completed as early as August 2013 but was held back due to "unforeseen challenges with the ground works". A rescheduled opening in November was then shelved following a government reshuffle and residents have been left scratching their heads over when the new block will be officially unveiled - although the station is confusingly already in use.
Well, now the ongoing saga looks set to draw to a close, with locals and passers-by tipped to see the full benefit very soon. Here's what's in it for those who have waited.
In 2011 it was announced that Wokingham's rail service would be bolstered with the development of a new station block. Early plans for the building included retail space, new toilets and an interior which, in the words of The Wokingham Society, would not be found elsewhere.
The plans would cost the Wokingham Borough Council £6 million, but passengers had been assured that the modern design and increased space would make their journey through the station more far more enjoyable.
Although the station is still waiting for its official debut, groups of passengers have been allowed to pass through the new building on their journeys.
Local reports suggest the design and added space makes for a much nicer building, although a 20p charge on toilets has spawned a fair amount of criticism.
The new station is also lacking the retail space that featured so prominently in the early plans, but the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance says shops will be added after the official opening.
To complement the improvements, additional services have been planned between the new station and London Waterloo over summer 2014, though no other changes to services have been announced. In general, the early signs are that a better experience has been created within the building, but residents will need to keep their eyes and ears peeled for any improvements on the tracks.
Fortunately work on the station is far from complete and the February opening was only pushed back to finally get the building up and running.
The second phase of the project will see more improvements to the station's forecourt, which can only be done after the demolition of the old station building.
South West Trains also has plans to add the shops it promised back in 2012, while the installation of canopies on Reading-bound platforms are among a long list of changes which still need to be made. So although the lions share of the work has been done, there is still some way to go yet.