Thames Valley park and ride

retaining wall being built
Balfour Beatty Living Places
Earley, Reading
Feb 2019
Aug 2020

We constructed a park and ride facility to ease congestion in Reading town centre.

The site, between the railway and the river Thames, was an unwanted corner of waste ground. Challenges on the project included restricted access between the river and the railway, a high pressure gas pipe, buried 132KV cables, and overhead electrified lines spanning the area.


attenuation tank Thames Valley park and ride
Attenuation tank 25m long x 2m wide: built using trench boxes instead of trench sheets and frames

The project included earthworks, reinforced concrete structures, drainage, lighting, surfacing and the access road for the new car park.

  • Site set-up, including traffic management, vegetation and site clearance
  • Drainage installations: 1,200m ducting, three attenuation tanks, 12 inspection chambers and associated gullies
  • Construct 133m cantilever retaining wall 6m high
  • Construct access road (sub base, capping, asphalt and kerbs)
  • 258 space car park construction (BOD PAV85 system)
  • Landscaping, including seeding, tree planting, and installation of a ‘living wall’ and ‘living fence’.

We needed to level the widely varied ground terrain. Based on a cut and fill survey, we reused excavated material as fill behind the 133m retaining wall, creating the higher level car parking area. The cantilever retaining wall (which we planted to become a ‘living wall’) allows for more parking places.

The drainage system includes three large underground attenuation tanks, installed using proprietary trench boxes and a specially designed temporary works system (trench sheets and frames). These are connected with a network of deep drainage pipes interspersed with 12 inspection chambers and two oil interceptor units.

At the end of the project, we installed street furniture including bicycle stands, ticket machines, lighting column protectors, crash barriers and bus shelters. We also installed and commissioned street lighting and CCTV.

Thames Valley park and ride car park
The finished car park

The Balfour Beatty Living Places MD emailed:

“I am writing to thank you and your team at VGC for your continued support throughout this current crisis.

“COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown has really tested everyone’s ability to swiftly adapt to keep our critical services delivering and our people safe. From early on we have been leading the way to ensure we can continue to deliver vital infrastructure and highway works whilst overcoming the challenges of maintaining government and industry requirements. Your support and commitment has helped make this possible.

We have seen so many examples of your team going above and beyond to keep the Thames Valley Park and Ride project going while implementing the COVID-19 requirements, and for this we thank you.

“We look forward to continuing to work together to navigate these unprecedented times.”

Environmental awareness

rescuing a frog from a gulley
We rescued an unwary frog from this gulley

The living wall which supports the car park, and the living fence running alongside the Thames, are part of the eco-friendly credentials of the project.

Before any works started on site, we installed a reptile fence to protect wildlife by keeping animals safely away from the working area.

We also installed bat and bird boxes which will provide shelter while the newly planted trees grow.

‘We look after each other’

Our key influencer on site was Jamie Crowe. As well as regular toolbox talks, our HSQE team delivered training in wellbeing, modern slavery, and hand safety.

Supporting young people into construction careers

Students Omar Miah and Ryan Waite visited the site in 2019 as part of their summer internships for VGC. Omar commented: “Health and safety is emphasised a lot. Plant is used very carefully – there are strict guidelines and precautions that are put in place for safety reasons.”

About the project

The scheme will reduce the peak time congestion experienced on the A4 during the morning and evening rush hours. It is funded by Wokingham Borough Council and we delivered on behalf of principal contractor Balfour Beatty.