Transport for London (TfL) will take over the stopping rail services between Paddington and Reading from December with passengers able to use contactless payment – but not Oyster cards – to travel to the Berkshire town.
The move is a precursor to the service becoming part of the Elizabeth line (Crossrail) and will involve the new Elizabeth line trains.
TfL said that from 2 January, customers will for the first time be able to use pay-as-you-go with contactless across the route all the way from Paddington mainline to Reading.
However, TfL’s zones do not apply to stations beyond West Drayton and it said pay-as-you-go with Oyster will not be extended to services beyond that station, ‘due to limitations with the system, which is now more than 15 years old’.
The current service frequency will be maintained - four stopping trains an hour in the peak between Paddington mainline and Reading and two off peak.
The services are currently operated by GWR, which will continue to operate some fast services from Reading, Twyford, Maidenhead and Slough to Paddington.
Howard Smith, operations director for TfL Rail, said: 'Starting TfL Rail services to Reading is another step towards opening London's new railway, the Elizabeth line.
‘Customers will see staff at every station, and improvements being made to stations along the route including the installation of lifts to provide step-free access, they will also be able to enjoy the convenience of pay as you go contactless payments all the way to Reading.'
Children under 11 who are accompanied by an adult, as well as customers who are eligible for the Freedom Pass, will be able to travel for free to Reading on the TfL service.
Station improvement work is being delivered by TfL and Network Rail at all stations between Paddington mainline and Reading including lifts providing step-free access, new station entrances, improved customer information systems, signage and waiting
Platforms have also been extended along the line to cater for the new trains.
New TfL Rail Elizabeth Line trains have already been introduced on the Liverpool Street to Shenfield, and Paddington to Hayes and Harlington routes.
However, the section of the line, which was supposed to open last December, has been significantly delayed.