11:21AM, Friday 27 May 2016
It’s been billed as ‘the biggest planning application in the history of Windsor’.
And if you take a quick glance at the latest drawings for the Windsor Link Railway (WLR) released this week, it’s easy to see why.
The project, a brainchild of the former Royal Borough councillor George Bathurst, pledges to revolutionise train travel in Windsor through the introduction of a tunnel running underneath the town’s existing viaduct.
The two main stations, Windsor & Eton Riverside and Windsor & Eton Central, would no longer be used, with all trains instead running out of a new central station near Bridgewater Terrace.
The existing line into Windsor & Eton Central station would be converted into a ‘green walkway’ comparable to ones already seen in New York.
Windsor’s parking crisis, according to Mr Bathurst, would also be solved through the construction of an underground car park beneath Alexandra Gardens.
This would require the gardens to close for a year but it would help restore the riverside area, said Mr Bathurst.
The list of pledges makes intriguing, if not slightly mind-boggling reading, but Mr Bathurst is adamant that the WLR would ‘leave a legacy for future generations’.
Standing in Windsor’s coach park, at the heart of his proposed development, the project’s founder told the Express: “This is a national embarrassment.
“We’ve got seven million-odd visitors arriving here in the town every year and, while we have got the river, this is not a good use of land.
“We want to raise the park so it’s level with the riverbank so you get better views of The Brocas and create a natural feel.”
WLR this week released a 3D fly-through video which aims to give residents a chance to see how the £200 million project could work in practice.
The video shows the new WLR line winding through the town using a newly-built tunnel running underneath the existing viaduct and Bridgewater Terrace.
Mr Bathurst told the Express that, to enable this plan, he would need to pay compensation to more than 20 households on the road, so he could build on the land.
But one Bridgewater Terrace resident, who did not want to be named, described the plans as ‘nothing more than pie in the sky’.
He said: “The compensation is what it’s all about. It would have to be sufficient so that one could continue to live in Windsor.”
The WLR, according to Mr Bathurst, ‘is a project for Windsor as well as the whole region’.
Plans also include extending the existing service from London Waterloo to Windsor & Eton Riverside to include Slough, as well as restoring fast trains from Windsor direct to Waterloo.
But with the sheer scale of land required to work, Mr Bathurst said he needs the Royal Borough on his side.
He added: “The idea is that we develop this in partnership with the council.
“We will get planning permission; it’s just a case of what it will look like. No-one is going to say no to a big improvement in infrastructure.”
Permission is expected to be sought from the borough this year but Mr Bathurst acknowledged that he needs to work with the public to address their concerns.
Some of these, particularly, regard how the WLR will run through surrounding villages such as Datchet.
Posting on the WLR’s Facebook page, David Cannon said the project ‘had no viable proposals for the stations and crossings at Datchet’.
But Mr Bathurst said he wanted to work with the people of Datchet to find solutions to any issues.
Visit windsorlink.co.uk for the latest developments.
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