I received this letter from Wokingham Borough Council:
28 January 2016
North Downs Line through the Wokingham constituency
The Great Western Railway hosted a North Down Line at the Sofitel at Gatwick Airport on Friday 15 January 2016 which I attended to hear their Managing Director, Mark Hopwood, announce the GWR’s exciting vision to try to achieve electrification of that line, which services Wokingham, by December 2019.
The plan is to have infill 3rd rail electrification, line speed improvements to 90mph, to double the frequency of the Gatwick Airport to Reading service to 2 trains per hour from May 2017 with existing diesel units (although that looks likely to slip by a year because of the delay in the GW electrification) and, after electrification, replace them with electric trains and extend them through Reading to Oxford. To complement this would see the frequency of the stopping service that services, inter alia, Crowthorne doubled to 2 trains per hour frequency by December 2022 and be able to include stops at Winnersh Triangle to serve both the business spark and the Park & Ride facility.
GWR are hopeful that this can be achieved outside the formal and lengthy High Level Output Specification process but this will need the support of local authorities (with Wokingham Borough Council fully supportive) and our MPs which I do hope you will give.
GWR are also understood to be planning to hold a reception for MPs in the House of Commons in the middle of the year to brief you on their vision for this line which is the one showing fastest growth on the GWR network and I hope you will be able to attend.
Councillor David Sleight