Marlborough girls present Queen with bouquets at revamped Reading station

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: A fan presents the Queen with flowers at Reading station today. Picture by Steve Parsons/PA Wire A fan presents the Queen with flowers at Reading station today. Picture by Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Two girls from Marlborough presented the Queen with flowers today as she officially opened the £900 million redevelopment of Reading station.

The Queen opened the new station at Reading 25 years ago and today, in a kingfisher blue silk dress with matching hat, she was back to tour the vastly-improved station, which is a key stop on routes from London to the South West.

Arriving on a scheduled First Great Western train from Paddington station in London, the Queen was met by the Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, the Hon Mary Bayliss.

After meeting dignitaries including Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, the Queen officially named what is being dubbed a "factory on wheels" - a High Output Plant system (Hops) train, which will dramatically reduce the time it will take to electrify the Great Western rail route.

As trains whizzed through the station, which remained opened throughout the ceremony, the Queen was presented with a bouquet of flowers by six-year-old Eadie Jackson, from Cirencester, Gloucestershire, whose father, Matt, is the Reading station area development project manager.

Also presenting bouquets were Molly Weeden, 13, and her 11-year-old sister Hannah, from Marlborough. They were watched by their father, Jim Weeden, who is Network Rail's Thames Valley project director.

The Queen, accompanied by Network Rail chairman Richard Parry Jones, was shown the transformation of the station, which now has two new entrances, five additional platforms and new shops while passengers waiting for trains strained to catch a glimpse of her.

The Queen patted guide dogs Breck and Orla, who have been used to help with the design of the station's accessibility.

Having named the Hops train "Brunel" after the great Victorian engineer, she then unveiled a plaque to mark the opening of the revamped station.

There were more cheers - and bouquets - as she stepped into the blinding sunlight outside to pose, seated, for a picture with the massed ranks of 100 rail construction workers.

The Queen's blue outfit by Karl Ludwig, with matching hat by Angela Kelly, contrasted sharply with the orange uniforms of the rail staff, who gave a throaty three cheers as she left, returning to Windsor by car.

Mr Parry-Jones said: "We are extremely honoured that Her Majesty has officially opened the new Reading station.

"Thousands of men and women have worked on this project over the last five years and this is a proud moment for them and for the entire rail industry.

"The scale of the new station here at Reading reflects the huge and growing demand for rail travel in Britain and it has already started to deliver a better experience for passengers."

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