WLR answers questions from Thamesweb

Thamesweb is a very useful and informative local website with a lively discussion forum. They’ve asked a lot of questions, so here are some of the answers.



Thamesweb (admin): You asked to see more detail on the scheme in the Windsor area.  This doesn’t yet exist because the Windsor Link Railway is providing the opportunity to improve the riverside area; it is not dictating how that should be done.  Once we have investment  we will be able to present more detailed plans and do a formal consultation in partnership with local people.  WLR recognises that Windsor is a beautiful and historic place and the objective is to improve it. At every stage in the project the design principle has been that everybody must win. That is, it is no good building a shining new link from Slough or Staines to Heathrow if it is at the expense of people elsewhere. That is not a net gain and it is the reason projects such as Airtrack failed. WLR seeks to help Windsor’s neighbours not by being a doormat but by seeking mutual advantage.



In the meantime, any ideas local residents have for making better use of the riverside area, restoring it and improving the visual environment are most welcome.



Goswell: yes, generous compensation would be offered to any businesses or residents adversely affected (although we do not expect many of these and would keep  disruption during construction to a minimum).



Park-and-ride is an integral part of the scheme, enabling potentially two schemes: one off the M4 and one in Poyle.



Jiffle king: The 15% margin mentioned previously was illustrative.  Gross margin is much higher than this as most of the costs with rail are capital costs.  Operating costs, such as staff, track maintenance and electricity are relatively small although the actual amounts chargeable depend the financial structure and Network Rail.



The four trains per hour are two from a shuttle service in addition to the current SWT service of two.



It is proposed that one of the level crossings in Datchet would be replaced with an underpass, preserving the look of the village but greatly reducing congestion and improving air quality.



Philb: phases 1 and 2 have been designed to be independent to minimise project risk.  Whilst Heathrow is the glamourous destination actually more people travel from south London to the Thames Valley every day and this is reflected in our revenue forecasts.  That said, the Heathrow connection, and the possibility of bringing Crossrail or the Heathrow Express to Windsor, is obviously highly desirable and will only add the business case for Phase 1.



Jiffle king: I’m sorry but can’t name investors without their permission and it wouldn’t be helpful to negotiations anyway. Also until we’ve got an agreement we can’t give an estimate on starting work.  The most time consuming and unpredictable part is dealing with Network Rail.


-As you expect the 6 minute service to Heathrow would require some upgrades to the track and is not proposed from the outset.


-Fares are based on current rates but, depending on the financial structure we are allowed by the government, we may be able to opt out of the franchise system and offer lower fares in future.


-What buildings, if any, that would have to be knocked down or purchased would depend on the final design chosen by local people for the area.  No heritage or listed buildings would be affected, however. Both station buildings would become redundant as stations and put to new use but otherwise remain as they are.


-As I’ve said above the railway is strongly supportive of a park-and-ride scheme. As with the railway tunnel this could potentially be constructed at no cost to the taxpayer and rail would provide a faster and more reliable link into the centres of both Slough and Windsor as well as better bus links to areas such as Park and Dedworth.



Menace: there are no plans ‘to tear the heart out of prime business locations’.  All will be untouched but complemented by better communication links and improved facilities perhaps including a return of an anchor store such as John Lewis.  The companies supporting the link were all from the centre of Windsor and Eton.  A full list has been sent to the secretary of state.



Jiffle king: the objective is to raise private money so as not to burden taxpayers.  However, if the taxpayer wants to pay for it (or even insists on doing so) that is a different matter.  Either way the focus is on delivering benefit to local residents not being precious about a particular funding model.



If there are more questions or suggestions, please leave comments below. I’ll do my best to answer as many of them as I can.