Rail schemes compete to tunnel under Colnbrook

Confusion reigns following the Government’s £500m contribution towards a western rail link to Heathrow this week. According to the privately funded Windsor Link Railway, no final decision has been taken on which – of several competing schemes – will be adopted.

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WLR has obtained confirmation that the Government’s cash is for a link and not the specific WRAtH scheme as has been widely reported.  Indeed, the text of the announcement makes no specific commitment to fund WRAtH.

Slough Borough Council and Slough MP Fiona McTaggart have thrown their weight behind the WRAtH scheme, which is by far the most supported scheme currently.

Colnbrook finds itself in the unenviable position where multiple rail schemes are vying to connect Heathrow, most which seem to involve tunnelling through the village!!

  • Western Rail Access to Heathrow (WRAtH) – Slough Borough Council
  • Windsor Link Railway (WLR) – privately funded
  • AirTrack – BAA, but cancelled at least for now due to lack of funds and opposition from Richmond early last year
  • AirTrack Lite – promoted by Wandsworth Council
  • HS2 (2 of the 11 possible routes for the Heathrow spur leaked last year tunnel under Colnbrook. The decision will be made in the Autumn)
  • Crossrail (tunnel from Hayes)

Most of the schemes fail to offer any immediate benefits to Colnbrook, although the WLR proposal aspires to reopen the branch line with a new station at Poyle and also add a bridge over the M25 – although no mention of whether the old Colnbrook level crossing would be reopened.

Ironically the WLR scheme also claims to make the proposed SIFE project more accessible to the wider rail network!  The SIFE appeal will be heard in the Autumn and, with the Government’s new focus on infrastructure projects, is not expected to encounter much resistance from the Secretary of State.

One way or another it looks like boring times ahead!

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