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Small train station’s footbridge costs as much to build as Empire State Building and takes ten times as long


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The construction of a new footbridge at a small railway is set to cost as much as the Empire State Building and has taken ten times as long to complete.

Building work for the new bridge at Theale station is more than 10 years overdue and its budget has rocketed to £9.5million.

The Empire State Building in New York took less time to build with a timescale of just one year and 45 days.

The footbridge at the Princess of Wales’s local railway station is not expected to open until spring 2024.

Kate Middleton

The footbridge at the Princess of Wales’s local railway station is not expected to open until spring 2024


Passengers have been left angry over the slow pace of the construction on the bridge near Reading in Berkshire, where the Princess’s parents and siblings are often seen boarding trains to London.

Network Rail started work on the small pedestrian walkway on the London to Bristol line in January 2023.

Theale’s MP, Sir Alok Sharma, has said the footbridge disaster is a “case study” in British bureaucracy and inefficiency.

It will be the first time since the station opened in 1847 that wheelchair users will be able to catch trains.


The upgrade was first announced in December 2011, with the budget set at £1.25million.

But after a new ticket office was build in 2014, the budget has rocketed to £9.5million – the same amount the Empire State Building cost to build.

As long as there are no further delays, the 13 years it will have taken for the station to see its revamp is the same length of time it took to build Big Ben or, according to the Bible, King Solomon’s Palace.

“The redevelopment of Theale station is a classic case study in just how slowly even relatively small infrastructure projects are delivered in our country, with resultant cost increases having to be picked up by the taxpayer,” Sharma told the Telegraph.

“We have to get much better at untangling the stifling bureaucracy and red tape in our system which holds back the time-efficient and cost effective delivery of infrastructure.”

Strike by rail workers set to cripple services

After a new ticket office was build in 2014, the budget rocketed to £9.5 million – the same amount the Empire State Building cost to build


David Sidebottom, director at the independent watchdog Transport Focus, added: “Investment in accessibility improvements at Theale station is a welcome move to help passengers with disabilities travel with greater confidence, however the delays have been frustrating and disappointing.

“Passengers will want assurances that there will be no further delays and for the station to have step-free access as soon as possible.”

A Network Rail spokesman said: “Plans to build a new footbridge with lifts at Theale station, part of the Department for Transport’s Access for All programme, were approved in January 2013 alongside a range of improvements including a new ticket office and expanded car park.

“At this time, funding was only provided for the ticket office and to progress design work for the footbridge.“A new ticket office was built by Great Western Railway. In 2021, £9.5 million funding was awarded for Network Rail to build a footbridge and lifts.

“The new facilities are set to open to the public in spring 2024. Great Western Railway will then begin work to expand the car park.”

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Written by: radioroxi

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