Thames Tap partners and sponsors have been unanimous in their approval of the announcement that the Elizabeth Line will begin direct services from Reading to Central London this year.
The line has been operating to Paddington since May but, from November 6, services will extend to Abbey Wood, stopping at stations including Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road and Liverpool Street.
Many of the region’s towns, including Reading, Maidenhead and Slough will then be directly connected to the centre of the capital for the first time. Our partners can see many positives.
Gordon Hood, head of residential lettings for Savills in Reading, said: ‘Proximity to a train or tube station was the top priority for London tenants over the first quarter of this year.
“With increased ease of access between London and towns along the route; Slough, Maidenhead and Reading will continue to be popular with renters.
“Meanwhile, across the commuter belt, urban areas are now driving rental growth. Over the 12 months to March 2022 rental values in cities and towns have increased by 8.4 per cent and 8.7 per cent respectively.
“That compares to annual growth of 6.5 per cent for rural locations and 5.5 per cent for villages. Whilst we continue to see record rental growth in London, amplified by a predicted lack of stock and continued strong demand, renters may need to look further afield, along the Elizabeth Line, to secure a suitable rental home.
“With strong demand from tenants already, there is an ever increasing opportunity for investor landlords too.”
Laura Fitzgerald, director for mode transport planning, said: “This stage of the Elizabeth Line opening is really what we have all been waiting for.
“This connected service will provide a convenient way of travelling into Central London, not just for commuting but opening up the city for a multitude of uses and users.
“Conversely, it also opens the Thames Valley to those in the city or simply travelling through the city. I look at all the Reading Festival arrivals this week and you can’t help thinking how easy it will be for them to access Reading going forward.
“We’re already seeing the Elizabeth Line effect from a transport planning perspective as new developments around Reading and the wider Thames Valley are being put forward with a view that the enhanced rail connectivity will facilitate the new hybrid working environment.”
David Jones, managing director of Evans Jones, said: “The linking of the Elizabeth Line through Paddington to Abbey Wood in November marks the culmination of this major infrastructure project.
“The completion of this essential link allows passengers to travel seamlessly from Reading to the east of London. A journey which on a good day could take nearly three hours by car will be greatly reduced.
“Perhaps more crucially, opening access from Reading direct to Liverpool Street Station allows easy access to mainline train services to and from the East of England.
“All great news for the local economy, supporting developments which are ‘in build’ or planned within the town.
“It is now for Reading to capitalise on this great opportunity using the growth springboard provided by the Elizabeth Line to re-invent Reading and ensure that it can become a destination where people wish to play, live, work and shop, in preference to simply been another commuter town serving London.
“I am confident that the significant increase in town-based residential accommodation, coupled with employees home working will give confidence to those seeking to invest in the town, in so doing underpinning the regeneration and repurposing of the retail centre and supporting other associated services.”
Mike Shearn, chief operating officer for Haslams Estate Agents, said: “It’s been an awful long time coming and at some considerable cost but this is great news for Reading and indeed for all of the Thames Valley.
“Reading is already one of the best connected towns in Europe and this consolidates that. In terms of what in actually means on the ground, it’s too early to tell.
“It will certainly help people commuting into Central and East London but I understand that more people commute into Reading every day which is testament to it being the economic powerhouse of the region.
“All research and evidence indicates that the areas closest to Elizabeth Line stations will benefit the most in terms of demand and value. Some of this has already been built into the local market but I expect to see a widening of the differential over the coming years with areas closest to the station gaining more than others. It is no surprise that many of the Build-to-Rent (BTR) schemes are very well placed to exploit this.
Mark Chapman, director of environment (air quality) Syntegra, said: “Improvements to public transport, such as the Elizabeth Line, are a proven solution to increased traffic on the road and its associated journey time delays and detrimental effects on local air quality. Rising fuel prices and cost of living will also see public transport become more economically advantageous.
“However, for the Elizabeth Line to remain attractive beyond the timeframe of current global oil and gas market volatility, it will need to position itself as the primary travel choice by being cheaper than the alternatives and by sustaining a reliable timetable.
“Maximising adoption of public transport through significant reductions in fares should be a priority for Central Government.”
Karen Jones, partner for Blandy & Blandy, said: “The Elizabeth Line fully operational is bound to have benefits for Reading. Improved transport links and new-look, modern trains with increased accessibility are bound to be a draw to travellers.
“Ease of movement is good for business. It will be interesting to see how the line contributes to Reading as place of choice for work and business – if 1.5 million more people will be within a 45-minute commute of the major employment centres of the West End, the City and Canary Wharf which way will they travel? Will Reading remain an important end destination with central London so accessible?”
WWA director Mark Slater, who manages the firm’s London office, said: “Beyond the connections it delivers, which will undoubtedly provide great economic benefit to West London and beyond, the Elizabeth Line provides a new benchmark for TfL in terms of the design of stations and trains greatly improving the travelling experience.
“However, perhaps more important is that the Elizabeth Line is inclusive and all 41 stations offer some degree of step-free access. Although this doesn’t necessarily mean level boarding which is arguably a missed opportunity, it is a big improvement in public transport provision for disabled people and also those with mobility issues and prams etc.
“Making Central London more accessible for all will open job opportunities and increase tourism which can only be good for the economy. Will it benefit development? The answer has got to be yes, but, with the current electricity supply problems in West London limiting developments to no more than 25 homes on each site, it could be a while before the full benefits are realised.”
James Maginn, a corporate account manager in the EMEA occupier services team at Savills Reading, said: ‘It is very exciting to see the Elizabeth Line finally coming into full service in November which will unlock quicker, better journey options and greater accessibility to occupiers/corporates across the Thames Valley and London.
“The real benefit is that, once at Paddington, the Elizabeth Line has really made London and reversely, the Thames Valley, more accessible, enabling people to reach the Central and Eastern parts of the city in half the time or less than the current journey times.
“This opens up alternative locations which may not have been previously considered along with talent pools from further afield which now fall within a more acceptable commute.”
Nick Carter, partner and head of commercial property for Boyes Turner, said: “Although the wait has been long, I have no doubt that the new line will make Reading a more attractive place to both live and work.
“On a business level it will improve the speed and comfort of my journeys to see clients and business partners in London and, for those of us working internationally, we have tried to badge ourselves as ‘one stop west of Paddington’ but now the Elizabeth Line puts Reading firmly on the Underground map, giving further options for visitors and investors.
“On a personal level, my wife and I used the line for the first time recently when visiting our daughter who now lives in London and it really was very impressive and made our journey from Wokingham so much more comfortable, not least for the air con on a hot day! No more suffering on the chugger to Waterloo for us.”
Kathryn Hawkett, a sales negotiator for Savills residential development sales team in Reading, said: “Reading to Paddington direct in 23 minutes?’, ‘Yes please’ say the buyers we are seeing in Reading!
“Both commuters and investors are snapping up spacious properties in and around town, which is no surprise, given considerable value for money here. Savills is marketing some really good developments which will benefit from the full service of the Elizabeth Line, both in Central Reading and its neighbouring towns such as Slough, which offers excellent rental yields, and pretty villages, which offer ample green space and quality of life.”
Sue Brackley, economic development manager at REDA, said: “This is really good news for Reading. We’ve always benefited from a fast rail link to Paddington, but being able to link directly and quickly with the West End and City is more good news for our economy and much anticipated by investors and residents.
“Personally, I love seeing Elizabeth Line trains at our station, it’s just another part of Reading’s growth and economic confidence.”
Helen Todd, director for Stubbings Property Marketing, said: ““The completion date of the Elizabeth Line has been long awaited but is very welcome news.
“We have seen, over the last few years, an influx of first-time buyers and young families migrating out of London to live in Slough and the Thames Valley, mainly due the area offering better value for money, green space, good education and great connectivity.
“This is a trend we certainly see continuing, with so many locations along the Elizabeth Line offering purchasers increased flexibility, particularly those who are still commuting into London on a regular basis.”
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