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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 5 March, 2003, 21:31 GMT
Rail repairs may rock festival
Reading Festival
The proposed rail works could mean revellers are stranded
Rail engineering works over August Bank Holiday weekend may mean travel chaos for revellers attending the Reading Festival.

Network Rail says it is considering the weekend of 22 - 25 August as its first choice to close the Reading to Paddington line so it can carry out "vital" points repair work.

The Reading Festival usually attracts more than 100,000 people to its riverside venue.

Pc Bob Maulini of British Transport Police said the works could pose serious safety concerns.

'Serious problems'

He said: "August Bank Holiday is traditionally the busiest day of the year for us.

"If the line is closed it could cause some serious crowd control problems.

"I don't mean in terms of people's behaviour but just the sheer numbers - they are normally queueing round to Caversham Road and this will make things worse."

John Howarth, head of transport at Reading Borough Council, said he was already in discussion with the rail operator.

"The Bank Holiday weekend closure is not our preferred option and I have already made this point to senior managers at board level at the rail company concerned," he said.

'Excellent alternative'

A whole weekend was needed to carry out the works, according to a spokesperson at Network Rail.

"We are waiting to hear what the police and Reading Borough Council have to say but August Bank Holiday is our preferred option," she said.

The festival's promoters, The Mean Fiddler, said they would be advising festival ticket holders as soon as there was a decision.

The firm's director, Melvin Benn, said: "The Mean Fiddler, Thames Valley Police and Reading Borough Council will be making representations to Network Rail later this week.

"There is an excellent alternative train service from Waterloo to Reading," he added.

Streets join festivals line-up
05 Mar 03 |  Entertainment
Cash for rail travel comfort
05 Mar 03 |  Wales

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