Branch Line Britain - celebrating Britain's minor railways

Southern - Wokingham review 1

Reading train at Wokingham railway station


21/9/08  Guildford to Reading

Dept Guildford: 11.50    Arrive Reading: 12.39

Weather: sunny

Cost of ticket: £11.80 (cheap day return Gatwick Airport to Reading) 

Length of line: 25 miles (double track all the way)

Traction used: Class 166 3-car DMU (Network Express Turbo)

Train operating company: First Great Western

Guildford is a fairly modern station, having been rebuilt in ? It has eight platforms and each pair of platforms has an individual canopy. We leave on time and pass empty sidings on our left, before leaving the Waterloo mainline and curving upwards and to the right. We are still in Guildford but trees hide the industrial units on my right. We pass the university and cathedral on left, and then go into a cutting as we continue to go uphill. We then briefly go out into open fields, before being shut in by a large swathe of woodland. We are now doing about 60 mph as we enter a short cutting, before emerging into wider open spaces. We pass Wanborough station, which has cream wooden clad station buildings. The scenery becomes more wooded again, then the track curves sharply to the right and we slow to about 40mph as we come to a stop at Ash station. It has two blue-framed perspex shelters, with a small car park next to the eastern platform.  We now go onto an embankment as we pass houses below us on right, and then we start to climb again. The line to Aldershot leaves us on the left and we continue on a northerly course. There are plenty of houses on the right, but woodland on the left. We go under the Aldershot to Woking line and pass a reservoir on the left, before coming to a stop at North Camp station. It has silver framed shelters on the east and west platforms, but the original yellow brick station building is still there, housing would you believe - a dentists! The land beyond North Camp is much flatter and there are still plenty of houses on the left. We then come to a halt at Farnborough North station, which has two blue shelters. It looks like the original station building is just before the station on the right and this present station may have been rebuilt in recent years. There's actually a newish looking builder's merchant suppliers next to the platform on the left. We then pass a graveyard on the left, then an out of town shopping centre and go under the A325. There are plenty of modern office buildings on the right and then we pass under the M3. After more industrial units on the left, we come out into some open space, but not for long. There's some modern housing on the left as we come into Blackwater station, which is a very modern looking station, with a large brick office block next to the station on the right. It has two blue-framed shelters and some of the station signs have an extra sign in green underneath advertising Blackwater Valley. Houses continue on the left, but there are fields on the right. We pass a water treatment works on the left and more houses appear on right, as we slow again for Sandhurst station. It's high above the shops below. It has the basic blue painted shelters on raised platforms. The train pulls away slowly as we go uphill again and into a wooded cutting. We don't go too far before we arrive at Crowthorne station, which also has the green station signs for the Blackwater Valley. It has its large red brick original station building and a canopy over the eastern platform. The western platform has a brick shelter which has a red BR symbol painted on its wall.  We wait here for a while, and then move onto an embankment with houses on the left and trees on the right.  We speed up to about 70 mph as we pass through a wooded section with the track being very straight here. Then there are wide-open fields at first, but then housing appears on the left as we slow again, as we come into the town of Wokingham. We join the line from Waterloo on the right, which is electrified 3rd rail and then stop at Wokingham station. It's a 1960's type white prefab building with a mesh blue footbridge over the line at the south end of station. There's a more modern concrete footbridge at the northern end. It has a large station car park on the right. We enter another cutting, then go past more houses on both sides as we now travel along an embankment. We are going quite slowly here - about 30 mph as we go under the A329 - until we go past Winnersh station. Then we speed up again and pass over the M4. There are lots of new office blocks on the right, and then we pass through Winnersh Triangle station and go over the river Loddon as the A3290 runs parallel to us.  Then we pass through Earley station, which has white-boarded buildings. The A3290 appears next to us as we reach 60 mph again and start to reach the suburbs of Reading. We are on an embankment and pass terraced houses on our left and factories and gas cylinders on the right. We go over a canal and see the Paddington mainline on the right, as we pass a shopping centre on the left and join up with the main line on the right and then come into platform 4 of Reading station. 

Summary: A busy cross-country line, which serves a large community to the Southwest of London.     MC