Updated 20 October 2018
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A bit of a pickle?
The Windsor Observer reports that the threatened Windsor Link Railway will not be discussed at an upcoming Windsor Town Forum meeting, despite pressure from residents to have the matter added to the agenda.
Cllr. Rankin has stated that the item missed the deadline for the agenda. I have no doubt that Cllr. Rankin has worked hard for his ward residents on many matters but on this occasion he seems to have ‘mis-spoken’ by giving the impression that the matter could be addressed, and then deciding that it could not be. It remains to be seen why this change of heart came about. It is inevitable that some residents are concerned that someone has been nobbled! Time will tell!
WTF (unfortunate acronym!) only meets twice a year and so, as an incisive and important forum for residents to discuss pressing matters, it is useless and is trying hard to live up to its initials!
Whilst it is true that the Windsor Link Railway plans are privately promoted (and funded, but no sign of that yet) the kindest thing to do would be to have a quiet word with the promoter and point out that it is a non-starter, a fact that the little group connected to it seems not to have appreciated over the last ten years.
The borough owes that to the fifty or so home owners in Bridgewater Terrace who have had to live for years under the threat of losing their homes, and, it seems, for years more to come.
There are a number of
valuable and constructive ideas currently being
promoted to improve rail access to Heathrow from
north, south, east and west, but the Windsor Link
Railway's proposal is NOT numbered amongst them!
Windsor Link Railway (WLR) have often claimed how appalling Britain's railways are and how the network has remained a series of unconnected lines and branches 'unbefitting of a modern state', and the truly ludicrous and unsupportable suggestion that Windsor, with its two independent railway lines, is somehow 'poorly served'. Their proposals however do nothing whatsoever to ameliorate that situation, if it is even remotely true, which most of us doubt.
On the contrary. Windsor Link Railway will wreck our town centre for a significant period yet bring zero benefits to residents, and certainly none that could not be implemented very simply without the 'drama' that WLR proposes, especially when the other, far more mature rail schemes on offer elsewhere, are taken into account.
The incentives on offer
encourages new businesses and jobs
WLR has been trying
for almost ten years now, since 2009, to
sell us the idea that linking our two railways to
create just one station and one
railway line is somehow better than the present two
stations and two railway lines that
currently serve the town.
Both residents and businesses
are being encouraged to believe the wholly false
proposition that a railway link, slicing through the
built-up riverside area of the town, is somehow a
'good idea'. It has been claimed that the
proposal would increase footfall in the town
centre, yet the concept encourages through
travel, diminishing Windsor to just another station on
the route from A to B.
It has also been suggested
that the ‘through railway’ would somehow encourage
businesses to set-up in Windsor. We have yet to see
any proof that this claim is supportable.
Similarly, WLR claim that some 6.3 million visitors per year arrive by road and that a rail link would see an improvement (i.e. a reduction) in that figure. The trouble is the WLR proposal requires the removal of two railway stations in Windsor and replacing them with just one. We do not agree that the proposal can possibly improve matters and have seen no justification for the claim.
On the WLR website there is a
claim that 3,000 more jobs will be created. No
evidence has been provided for this claim. Currently
approximately 77,000 individuals are in employment
locally with around 2,100 unemployed. (Source
In a contrived attempt to
encourage local support, we are being offered other
incentives such as an 'improved' riverside, an
'improved' railway service, more parking (but somehow
with less traffic!), extensive terraces of
faux-Georgian 'Billionaire Mansions' and much faster
connections to Waterloo, with more trains, as well as
a connection to Heathrow.
So many goodies!
It is a shame that not one
single proposed benefit will prove to be any more than
either a pipe-dream, or a plan already included in the
proposals of others elsewhere. The reasons why are set
WLR has been touted for almost ten years now, it is
only comparatively recently that WLR has clambered
on the Heathrow bandwagon and concocted an argument
that their new tunnel will somehow improve links to
Heathrow and elsewhere, including
the saving of just a couple of minutes
travel time between Windsor and Waterloo - but only,
it appears, by introducing a previously
unnecessary change of trains at Staines.
The truth of the matter is that the lines into
Waterloo are so congested that there is very little
margin for any faster services from Windsor.
Furthermore the level crossings along the route
beyond Staines create their own restrictions because
extending closure periods would be unacceptable.
Nevertheless, South Western Railway have increased
train lengths and promised that increased train
services from two to four trains an hour will be
introduced in May 2019. So that particular sweetie
has already been removed from the WLR menu.
The best link?
far as improving Heathrow accessibility goes, just a
momentary glance at WLR's own proposed route map will
illustrate that this particular ‘benefit’,
despite conveniently omitting several stations en
route to imply speed and convenience, is totally
unconvincing, especially when the obvious advantages
of the proposed link from the GWR line at Slough, the
Western Rail Link to Heathrow (WRLtH)
are taken into account.
'quick and simple' rail link is a far more efficient
and minimally destructive option which Windsorians
will much prefer to use when travelling to the airport
for the simple reason that it will be much quicker!
Strangely the GWR - Heathrow
option does not figure prominently on the WLR pages,
yet the proposed connection will prove to be very
valuable from the West Country, Wales, the North West,
and even from northern England, because it offers very
convenient access to the airport from all those parts
of the country that has access to the GWR, Paddington,
It needs to be emphasised that
Heathrow's accessibility from the west via WLR would
be severely hampered by at least five stops
along the 'dog leg' route compounded by the
required train change at Staines. These additional
stops would be:
We make that six stops followed by
an inevitable train change at Staines to eventually
get to Heathrow. Compare this convoluted route with
the GWR link direct to Heathrow's terminals from
Slough. Admittedly a train change at Slough may also
be required by passengers, but given that the overall
transit time would be just minutes, most Windsorians
would be perfectly happy with that.
This admirably elegant rail link between Slough and Heathrow is far less costly and disruptive because it routes beneath open countryside and not through our busy town centre. Surely preferable?
Furthermore, WLR are
implying that their magical mystery tour route from
Slough around the dog-leg route to Heathrow would be
accepted by the operators of Heathrow, the airlines,
Network Rail, the Department for Transport, and the
investors too for that matter. How could they
possibly all say ‘Yes’ to a single track, two way,
railway line through a tunnel? What are the chances
that all interested parties would be happy to
channel all their LHR traffic from the West Country,
Wales and NW England along a single track in a
tunnel under Windsor (and taking about 30 minutes or
more and offering NO alternative route when things
go wrong) when the WRLtH is simple and quick, and
A rail industry professional has advised us that this restriction would constitute ‘a serious bottleneck, especially if it is to be part of WLR’s wider ambitions, for example a Reading to Heathrow route’.
We agree! Bottlenecks lead to inevitable delays and will in no way result in the 'improved' rail service that WLR are claiming.
There is therefore no need for the
Windsor Link Railway in any shape or form whatsoever.
That is what Windsorians have been
saying all along.
The LHR Alternatives
What does need to be said
once more therefore, quite simply, is that the link
railway is a nonsense as far as accessing the
airport, or the Waterloo lines, is concerned when
compared with other, far more mature and considered
schemes such as those proposed by the Heathrow Southern
The HSR offers far more than
the contrived Windsor link ever could. Their scheme
provides for convenient access from all compass
points around the south of the UK, from Dover in the
east to Weymouth in the west, a massive arc of
convenient connections that link directly to
Heathrow and which requires not one single inch
of tunnel to be blasted through Windsor, no
blighting of the riverside, no harming the visual
amenity that are the views of our world famous
castle, no destruction of National Trust land, no
homes demolished, and no reduction of our public
gardens to a mere roof terrace over a massive car
More about rail links
October 1969. The castle from the gardens complete with flowerbeds...
how public gardens should be presented!
development is always more rewarding than creating
The damage to the local economy during
all this construction will be substantial and
significant, and may well never be justified
economically, however long the period of
recovery. With High Streets experiencing much
‘stress’ these days with the advent of online
shopping, the additional damage to the local
economy by the WLR proposals must not be
Sadly none of the
WLR claims we have looked at above are either true
or desirable, but let's take a look at traffic.
Despite a curious claim that 95,000 tonnes of CO2
will somehow be saved by WLR's implementation,
they also propose a very large car park in the
town, quoted as accommodating perhaps as many as
3,000 cars. This will be constructed underneath
the much loved, Victorian, Alexandra Gardens.
Access is proposed from Goswell Road in the east
and Stovell Road from the west, under the arches
(rather than through them) at Barry Avenue. A
totally reconstructed set of access ramps leading
to and from the Royal Windsor Way are proposed but
it seems very unlikely that such a reworking of
the present Maidenhead Road on and off ramps will
be possible, or even acceptable from a Highways
point of view, as previously mentioned.
Residents are also
concerned at the prospect of the inevitable
significant increase in road traffic past the
Leisure Centre, much frequented by children of all
ages, often by bike or on foot.
So why is WLR still being touted around?
demonstrated above that access to Heathrow from
the four corners of the compass will be amply
provided for without wasting effort on a spurious
Windsor link so why do the promoters keep banging
on about it?
Could it be the
possibility of big rewards through the
construction of several hundred expensive
billionaire mansions along the riverside? Could it
be the possibility of similar rewards through the
construction of hotels? Could it be the
'expectation of plenty' through the construction
of office blocks?
Ah... one million
square feet of development potential... Ahhhhh!
aspects that require
The Royal Curve at Slough
The Windsor Link
Railway proposals originally suggested the
re-creation of the ‘Royal Curve’ at Slough. This
linked the branch line to Windsor with the GWR
tracks to the west. We suspect that use of this
curve at any point in the future, especially two
or even four times an hour would be very difficult
to implement because of the high frequency of main
line services to and from Paddington, often high
speed, ‘through’ trains which would preclude the
use of, or the crossing of, these high speed
tracks by trains to or from Windsor. The matter
requires further investigation.
Further to the
above, an additional full size platform for
services to or from the west would be required, as
well as the extension of the existing platform one
currently used by the Windsor shuttle.
Operators and passenger
It is unclear who will operate these
new services, be it South Western Railway or
Great Western Railway. Would GWR be happy to
give up its operation of the Windsor shuttle?
Would SWR be happy to take it on given the
implications relating to increased rolling stock
associated with longer routes? What is the
demand (load factor) for passenger travel from
GWR destinations to SWR destinations that is not
already catered for by existing, alternative
The WLR proposals
simply will not wash. The rail link is
demonstrably unnecessary, the threat to Windsor
businesses and existing private homes is too
great, massed development along the riverside is
not wanted and the loss of Windsor's heritage
sites is unacceptable.
suggested extension of Alexandra Gardens to the
riverside is simply achieved, should we so wish,
without the massive developments from Romney Lock
Road to Stovell Road. The reduction of our Public
Open Space to nothing more than a roof terrace
while the National Trust Goswells is lost
permanently to a travel interchange complex, plus
new roads and new (hi-rise) hotels and office
blocks and faux Georgian terraces are really
not what we want for the town.
the latest discussion see