Benefits by region
WLR achieves faster door-to-door journey times to Heathrow, despite a slightly longer route, by more frequent services at more stations. This includes more 4 trains per hour (versus 2 for separate links) from both Maidenhead and Twyford. WLR also proposes new stations at Poyle, Windsor, Chalvey and Slough Trading Estate all with direct services to Heathrow.
Three new park-n-ride stations (on the M25, M3 and M4) will serve customers who prefer to start their journeys by car or bus, relieving traffic congestion on roads closer to the airport.
East Berkshire suffers from some of the worst air quality in the country. Providing faster journeys by train around the region will address this through modal shift (reducing congestion on the roads) and offset some of the increase caused by an expanded Heathrow.
WLR’s phase 2 proposals include a number of sites that would be enabled for potentially thousands more homes (in addition to those in Windsor in phase 1).
WLR’s design allows for direct services from the west of England to Heathrow. This will result in faster and more convenient services from cities such as Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, Plymouth, Gloucester and Oxford.
Note that not all services will be direct but these are expected to be more available off-peak, when the lines are less congested with commuter trains.
Windsor is the most visited tourist destination in England outside of London. By linking Windsor to Heathrow and providing direct trains from Windsor to the west, more of these will be encouraged to visit regional cities, distributing the benefits of tourism more widely, without adding to road congestion.
Long-distance rail fares in the UK are already expensive. By providing a more cost-effective solution, of use to a wider range of people, fares on the Windsor Link Railway are expected to be lower than travelling on dedicated links to Heathrow.
WLR will provide service options from areas not far from Heathrow but where the car is often the only practical way to the airport at present.
This means that towns such as Basingstoke, Farnborough and Aldershot, in Hampshire, and Chertsey, Woking and Guildford, in Surrey, could have direct services to Heathrow.
WLR’s proposals include extending Crossrail (now the Elizabeth Line) to towns such as Staines, Ascot, Farnborough and Basingstoke in Hampshire. Another branch could serve Chertsey and Guildford and Woking.
Congestion caused by level-crossing downtime was a major factor in previous attempts to connect Heathrow to the south by rail.
WLR addresses this problem first by being cheaper, meaning that there is more money available in the business case to address it. At some locations, this will mean investment in replacing level crossing with graded junctions (e.g. at Datchet, Egham and Sunningdale). Where a graded junction isn’t practical, WLR is committed to providing an equivalent or better rate of open crossing time, by better train scheduling (e.g. as per the AirTrack Lite proposal by Hounslow Council) or other investments such as improved train signalling.
WLR isn’t just for Heathrow. It will also ease connections between the M3 and M4 economic corridors, providing a new strategic link in the country’s rail network, and make it easier to get around the region. See our phase 1 page for some examples.
WLR will enable convenient transfers for millions more people in the south to HS2, meaning that the value of this national investment will be greatly enhanced. Connection will be via Heathrow and the new station being built for HS2 at Old Oak Common.
Crossrail will also be more easily accessible via WLR, meaning many of the destinations its serves will also be easier to get to, including Paddington, Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road.
WLR addresses this problem first by being cheaper, meaning that there is more money available in the business case to address it. At some locations, this will mean investment in replacing level crossing with graded junctions. Where this isn’t practical, WLR is committed to providing an equivalent or better rate of open crossing time, by better train scheduling (e.g. as per the AirTrack Lite proposal by Hounslow Council) or other investments such as improved train signalling (now made easier by the planned upgrades to the control centre at Feltham).
WLR will enable convenient transfers for millions more people in the south to HS2, meaning that the value of this national investment will be greatly enhanced. Connection will be via Heathrow and the new station being built for HS2 at Old Oak Common, providing an alternative route without going via already congested stations in central London or Reading.
WlR phase 2 enables the Crossrail and Heathrow Express services to be extended beyond Heathrow, providing broader regional connectivity (shown in yellow). WLR will provide 8 trains per hour in each direction to and from Heathrow. The diagram above shows 4 of these going west, to Poyle, Windsor, Chalvey, Slough TE, Maidenhead, Twyford and Reading. 4 trains per hour will also go to the south: these can go to Aldershot (illustrated) but also to Farnborough, Basingstoke, Chertsey and Woking. Future enhancements may include tunnels to shorten routes and provide faster journey times.
Separate western and southern links to Heathrow
- Detrimental to local connectivity
- Potential poor reliability
- No enhanced goods facilities
- Taxpayer subsidy required
- Low value-for-money
- Small contribution to air quality improvement around Heathrow
- On government balance sheet
- High constructability risk
- No new housing
Windsor Link Railway
- Enhances local connectivity
- Improved reliability and room for growth
- New goods depot and new goods route
- No subsidy required
- Very high value-for-money
- Large contribution to air quality improvement around Heathrow
- Off government balance sheet
- Complex but no unusual risks
- 1,000+ new homes at multiple locations