WRaTH publishes more details on Poyle tunnelling options
The Western Rail Access to Heathrow (WRaTH) has published an alternative version of its preferred route to the Great Western Main Line, offering a reduced impact on housing in the area.
The WRaTH project published alternative routes for its proposed link railway last month, offering both a ‘Green’ and ‘Orange’ version of its preferred route to linking Heathrow to the Great Western Main Line via Langley.
It says it has ruled out three other schemes now: a link via the Colnbrook freight branch line; a tunnel via Datchet to the Windsor line; and a link via a new Heathrow branch.
The Colnbrook option was dismissed due to the lack of capacity on the line, need for a long tunnel, constraints of the M25/M4 junction, and difficult construction environment over rivers and ponds, golf course, SSSI, sewage works, and MOD strategic storage site.
WRaTH has presented two options for its preferred link via Langley. Both would utilise twin bore tunnels, with at least two escape shafts. They would connect into Terminal 5 via existing stub tunnels, emerging 250m south of the Great Western Main Line.
While both would avoid the SSSI sites, the cheaper Green route avoids the site of a Scheduled Ancient Monument but tunnels under housing, while the Orange route avoids housing but impacts on the site of the monument, an ancient ditch.
The Orange option differs from the route published on February 5 which took the line through the proposed SIFE/North West Third Runway site and through Poyle. The alternative route runs much closer to the M25 and under Old Slade, Orlitts, and Colnbrook West Lakes.
The plans now published by WRaTH shows impact potentially for residents of The Hawthorns, Bath Road, Poyle New Cottages and Elbow Meadow. Pippins School is also likely to be impacted.
Tunnelling activities could generate 2 million tonnes of spoil and WRaTH accepts the local road network would be unsuitable given the quantity of HGV traffic expected to be generated. It wants to investigate extending the existing freight loop to enable removal by train.
WRaTH has published a notional schedule which shows work kicking off in mid-2017 with the link railway open by 2021.
Journey times between Heathrow and Reading could be cut from 56 to 26 minutes (assuming an interchange via Paddington) and four trains per hour would be anticipated. Trains are currently assumed to be provided by either extending the notoriously expensive Heathrow Express services, extending new Crossrail services, or services provided through the Great Western franchise.
Residents of Colnbrook would not benefit from the new service. WRaTH have not indicated whether it may be possible catch a train from Langley or whether they would have to travel to Slough.
An outline construction strategy is expected to be published by the Autumn with final designs available early next year. A consultation with the local community is expected in early Summer. The Parish Council has already been consulted.