Reading was a major staging point on the old Bath Road (A4) from London to Bath and Bristol. This road still carries local traffic, but has now been replaced for long distance traffic by the M4 motorway, which closely skirts the borough and serves it with three junctions (J10–J12).
Within Reading there is the Inner Distribution road (IDR), a ring road for local traffic movements. The council has put forward a plan to make the IDR one-way. This has proved highly controversial and the plan is now (June 2007) under review.
The A329(M), A33 and A4 national routes link the town with junctions 10, 11 and 12 of the M4 motorway respectively. The IDR is linked with the M4 by the recently constructed A33 relief road, which runs past the Madejski stadium and Green Park Business complex.
The Thames is crossed by both Reading and Caversham road bridges, while several road bridges cross the Kennet. There has long been a desire to construct a third bridge across the Thames, to the east of the existing bridges. Some people believe that this will remove one of the town's bottlenecks and ease traffic congestion. Others believe that it will induce more traffic, move bottle necks and open up swathes of South Oxfordshire to unwanted development. However, the proximity of the county border means that any such route will have to pass through South Oxfordshire, and this development has so far been blocked by its residents and politicians.
Reading station frontageReading is a major junction point on the national rail system, and as a consequence Reading station is the UK's second busiest transfer point outside London (after Birmingham New Street), as well as serving heavy originating and terminating traffic. There are current plans to rebuild Reading station, with grade separation of some conflicting traffic flows and extra platforms, to relieve severe congestion at this station.
Railway lines link Reading to both Paddington and Waterloo stations in London. The route to Paddington offers both non-stop (taking around 30 minutes) and stopping services, whilst that to Waterloo offers only a stopping service. Long distance services also link Reading to Bristol, Cardiff and South Wales, Exeter, Plymouth and South West England, Birmingham and the North of England, and Southampton and Bournemouth. Local services link Reading to Oxford, Newbury, Basingstoke, Guildford and Gatwick Airport.
Historically, there have been two airfields in Reading, one at Coley Park and one at Woodley, but these have both long since closed. Today Reading is served by several nearby airports.
The nearest airport is London Heathrow, which is 30 miles away by road. An express bus service named RailAir links Reading with Heathrow, or alternatively it can be accessed by changing at Hayes and Harlington railway station, on the local rail service to Paddington, to the Heathrow Connect rail service.
London Gatwick is 60 miles away by road and is served by direct trains from Reading. London Luton is also 60 miles away by road, whilst London Stansted is 90 miles away; both can be reached by rail by changing stations in central London. The airport at London City, principally used by short-haul business travellers to and from London's financial district, can also be reached by a combination of rail services.
The smaller regional Southampton Airport also provides services to short haul destinations. It is 45 miles away by road, and served by a direct train service. Local public transport is largely road-based, and can be affected by the significant peak hour congestion in the borough. A comprehensive and frequent local bus network within the borough, and a less frequent network in the surrounding area, are provided by Reading Buses, Other bus operators include:
First Bus, Reading-Winnersh-Wokingham-Bracknell service, Thames Travel: Reading-Arborfield-Wokingham service, Reading-Wallingford-Oxford service, Arriva, Reading-High Wycombe service, Newbury Buses, Reading-Newbury service, Countywide Travel, Reading-Fleet-Aldershot service