Benefits by region
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.
Overall, WLR is estimated to create 4 million new rail journeys, significantly reducing congestion on the motorways too.
East Berkshire suffers from some of the worst air quality in the country and is in breach of EU limits. 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.
Overall, phase 1 of WLR is estimated to save 95,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere per year.
WLR’s proposals include a number of sites that would be enabled for significant numbers of more homes in sustainable locations in Slough and Windsor
WLR will create an estimated 3,000 new jobs in and around Windsor, focussed on town centre, sustainable locations.
Windsor is the most visited tourist destination in England outside of London as well as a working palace. The Royal Borough receives 7 million visitors per year but over 90% come by road in some years. By providing easier journeys both from London to Windsor and from Windsor to the west, more tourists will be encouraged to visit cities in the west, such as Exeter, Plymouth and Cardiff, distributing the benefits of tourism more widely, without adding to road congestion.
Faster journeys from the M3 to the M4 corridor
WLR will 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.
Woking in Surrey to Slough in Berkshire, for example, is a difficult journey today at peak hours, following the most congested section of the M25. Despite being less than 20 miles, it can often take over an hour by car. The train is worse, taking at least 75 minutes and 3 changes, involving Reading and Basingstoke or central London. With WLR phase 2 this journey could be direct and much quicker than by car.
The following picture is a Google Maps result for Slough to Windsor by train.
WLR will ease connections between south-west London and M4 economic corridor, providing a new strategic link in the country’s rail network
For example, travelling between two Royal Boroughs, Maidenhead to Richmond-upon-Thames, is a difficult journey today at peak hours, following as it does some of the most congested roads and motorways in the country. Despite being less than 20 miles, it can often take over an hour by car. The train is worse, taking at least 75 minutes and 3 changes. With WLR phase 2 this journey could be direct and much quicker than by car.
The following picture is a Google Maps result for Maidenhead to Richmond by train.
WLR will ease connections between the M3 and M4 economic corridors, providing a new strategic link in the country’s rail network This won’t just help local people but to everybody who needs to make an orbital journey around London.
For example, Slough to Brighton takes over 2 hours by train today and requires going via either central London or Reading, neither of which is on the way and both of which are often very congested. With WLR, travellers from the south of England will have an additional, more direct option to the Midlands and the North.
The following picture is a Google Maps result for Slough to Brighton by train
Windsor Riverside Master Plan
This video shows the new connected railway lines in Windsor joined by a tunnel with a new single station.
It also illustrates the improvement of the Windsor riverside that is catalysed by the infrastructure, including a park extended by 33% and reconnected with the river, better views of the castle, 1,600 new car parking spaces, many hundred new homes for local people and more communal facilities such as a cinema – all whilst reducing traffic congestion and CO2
Phase 1 of the Windsor Link Railway will connect Slough to Waterloo via Windsor, with the diagram above illustrating a service with four trains per hour.
FAQ – Outcomes
Yes, doing the railway on its own is an option. Unfortunately, however, there is a very long queue for schemes and Network Rail is struggling to keep up so we would probably wait for decades. Also, having demonstrated the appetite for funding this way, HM Treasury would be unlikely to look kindly on adding to Network Rail’s debt.
Not using the new rail link as an opportunity to improve the Windsor riverside would also be a lost opportunity. When the railways first came to Windsor, they were a catalyst for much that is beautiful in Windsor today, including Thames Street and the Long Walk, the front of the town. We think we can do just as well with back of the town, the riverside and improve the views of the castle. Also, rail links are not the only problem the town faces; we have severe parking and traffic congestion problems. These still need addressing.
Yes, in theory. All the elements of the scheme are options, not compulsory. However, WLR has been presented as an integrated scheme because all the elements complement each other both in planning policy and politically.
For example, the property helps the railway get started but also makes the property development sustainable. Building several hundred thousand square feet of new accommodation would put a probably unacceptable burden on Windsor’s roads without significant investment in infrastructure. Windsor is already in breach of air quality statutory limits and this would make it worse. Relatively modest proposals for multi-story car parks on Alma Road and the coach park were furiously rejected by residents the last time they were proposed, with one of the largest petitions ever. WLR, by contrast, had a larger petition in its favour.
The intention is to apply for initial planning permission in 2018. This would be followed by a Development Consent Order in 2020. The earliest that trains would be operational is 2022.
Building disruption for the main tunnel is anticipated to take less than a year, with all rail construction completed within two years.
WLR includes a park-n-ride scheme. Combined with the railway, this will dramatically improve access to the town and reduce pollution. The preferred site is be just north of the M4, on the site of the current tip at Chalvey, which has the advantage of not being Green Belt and acting as a catalyst for improvement of that area as well. Other sites near the railway line could also be possible.
WLR’s proposal is that the additional parking is accessed via a new road in front of the leisure centre. This will drastically relieve some of the most congested and polluted roads in Windsor, such as Arthur Road. It is further proposed to straighten the roads from Datchet, taking it away from the riverside, which will further reduce congestion in the conservation area. This is in addition to the fact that many more people will be able to come to Windsor by train, further reducing congestion. It should also be noted that more parking is not a compulsory element of the scheme and residents may wish to prioritise other things.
Most of the work will be at the tunnel portals and it is fortunate that both of these are well away from the main thoroughfares and residential areas. WLR also plans to make good use of the river for transporting aggregate in and spoil out – again we are fortunate that their are convenient locations for wharfs by both tunnel portals.
This is not to say that there will be no disruption. Even though Crossrail, for example, was underground surface works were still necessary. That took 3 years for 26 miles of tunnelling. WLR has just 300 yards of tunnel and we estimate this part of the construction should take under a year. We are not anticipating that many businesses will need to close or relocate but those that do will be fully compensated. There is no significant loss of business or disruption anticipated to the main trading areas of the town or to tourism generally during construction. Likewise, commuter journeys should be able to continue with at least one station and mostly both stations open at all times. Once complete, of course, trade and other journeys should be significantly improved.