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Exclusive | Windsor to Heathrow rail scheme 'rejected outright'

Windsor

The proposed Windsor Link Railway (WLR) which would have provided southern access into Heathrow has been “rejected outright” by the government as part of its call for market led proposals (MLP).

Speaking exclusively to New Civil Engineer, WLR chief executive George Bathurst said it had received confirmation late on Wednesday night.

The Department for Transport (DfT) told Bathurst thatit did not think that the scheme’s expected fare revenue matched the capital cost of building the line.

Although Bathurst added that the government had not entered into any discussions to query how Windsor Link Railway had generated the numbers.

“I’m really disappointed, it’s been eight years in the making,” he said. “I’m going to go back to the team and discuss what to do next.”

The proposal had been drawn up by Windsor Link Railway in partnership with consultant Arcadis and contractor Skanska.

The scheme was submitted as part of the government’s call for ideas on market led rail proposals to increase the amount of third party funding for rail projects.

The scheme was split into two phases. The first involved building a short section of new track and tunnel in central Windsor to connect Slough and Windsor to London Waterloo by linking up to the existing rail network.

Phase 2 would then have seen a longer link providing southern access to Heathrow joining the existing rail lines providing services to the West.

Both phases have been rejected as well as a whole suite of other measures also submitted as part of the MLP process, including an ambitious plan to purchase the proposed southern rail line from Network Rail to incorporate pods and autonomous vehicles on it.

The second phase of the link was in direct competition with the £1.2bn Aecom-backed Heathrow Southern Rail bid. A decision on which southern access scheme to take forward has not yet been announced, despite the DfT it saying it would announce in the autumn.

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