04:48PM, Monday 04 June 2018
Network Rail is currently undertaking a consultation on their proposal to create a Western Rail Link to Heathrow. A measure of their working methods may be gleaned from the fact that out of 18 consultation sessions currently organised in the local area, no fewer than 13 take place during working hours, and therefore cannot be attended by many of those most badly affected by the proposals.
Their plan is to permanently close Market Lane in Langley, a route originally created by Brunel when he built the railway, and now used by about 10,000 people every day. Based on Network Rail’s own figures, more existing users of that road will be disadvantaged by the scheme than rail passengers who will be advantaged by it (the trains will not even stop at Langley station). And this does not include the knock-on effects the road closure will have on the surrounding area of some 30,000 residents. We know, from Slough council’s ill-conceived trial closure in 2016, just how badly the central areas of Langley, Iver, and Richings Park will be affected. We saw the traffic queues stretching back from Langley village centre to the M4 in one direction and all the way to Iver in the other direction. Yet many people are still unaware of the impact, or are resigned to it.
Network Rail is using this apathy to its advantage. Its scheme – essentially the lowest cost option – contains no plan to keep the road open or provide a re-aligned alternative. It has no worthwhile plans to provide any mitigation at all, just vague murmurs about selected road junction improvements through Langley.
It is deeply regrettable Slough council, despite the protestations of council members even among its governing party, is actively supporting a scheme which will decimate nearly a quarter of the council area they purport to represent, while bringing no benefits whatever.
Astonishingly, our MP appears likewise unconcerned.
Faced with such individual and institutional apathy, prospects for Langley residents are not bright. But if anyone out there is listening I would urge them to consider the impact of 6,000 more vehicles per day trying to get through Langley and Iver and to consider the effects on their journey times, local air quality, ease of using local shops, and access to and by essential services.
Should you decide your quality of life is more important than shorter journey times to Heathrow from Swansea or Cardiff, then please reply accordingly to the current consultation. The closing day is June 22.
Please write to westernraillinktoheathrow
@networkrail.co.uk. Send a copy to your MP and local councillors as well. We might yet prevent a scheme destined to be utterly destructive to the local community.
An independent report into a Conservative councillor has found a breach of the Royal Borough’s code of conduct in a document seen by the Advertiser.