The Department for Transport has now responded to Network Rail’s request for guidance on the Windsor Link Railway.
It confirmed that phase 1 of the proposal (connecting Slough to Staines via Windsor) is in-line with policy. They said, assuming WLR requires no taxpayer funding, “We have no objection whatsoever to you continuing to work with the relevant parties to take forward the proposal.” Also in-line with established practice for a scheme promoter, the DfT confirmed the WLR remains responsible for developing its business case and procuring the funding.
The DfT is still considering different options for phase 2 (connecting Heathrow to the west). However, WLR expects that this will change as the business case comparison is developed, showing that the WLR will save taxpayers up to £1 billion and have greater public benefit compared with isolated schemes for connecting Heathrow to Slough and Staines.
UPDATE (22/6/12): Theresa Villiers, the Transport Minister, has confirmed that the DfT is supporting the principle of a link, not a particular route and stated that they are ‘happy’ for the WLR to work with both BAA and Network Rail to develop this.