01:34PM, Thursday 14 March 2019
Opposition to a proposed Windsor Link Railway was reiterated at a Windsor Town Forum meeting on Tuesday.
The forum’s chairman Cllr John Bowden (Con, Clewer East) insisted at the Windsor Guildhall meeting that the council did not back the idea of a privately-funded line.
Part of former Royal Borough councillor George Bathurst’s proposals would have seen a new rail tunnel be built to provide a link to Heathrow Airport from the town, and has faced opposition from Windsor residents.
“The council’s position at this moment is that we are not in favour of the Windsor Link Railway and in turn we have no particular interest in it at all,” Cllr Bowden said.
Council leader Simon Dudley (Con, Riverside) said the scheme would be ‘hugely disruptive’ to Windsor if ever realised.
“We have no interest in Windsor Link Railway,” he said.
“We do not believe it is a viable scheme.
“The Department for Transport doesn’t believe it was a viable scheme.”
The roughly 20 residents watching also heard that the council’s Severe Weather Emergency Protocol, which the council uses to shelter homeless people in rough weather, will run until the end of March, with the possibility of extending it until spring weather kicks in.
The forum heard from Sgt Emma Pendry that burglaries in Windsor have increased, alongside shed breaks.
She said in central Windsor there had been an 83 per cent ‘spike’ in bike thefts, a 17 per cent increase in burglaries there, a 157 per cent rise in shed breaks and non-dwelling burglaries, and a 27 per cent rise in theft from vehicles.
In western Windsor, there has been a 14 per cent increase in burglaries, a 47 per cent increase in non-dwelling burglaries and a 41 per cent rise in thefts from vehicles.
Speaking after the meeting, a Windsor Link spokesman said: “The Windsor Link is a scheme to improve Windsor not just for today but for our children’s children. It provides faster and more frequent trains from Windsor to London and Heathrow, improving the quality of life for thousands of residents.
"It is the only solution on the table that addresses the town’s severe traffic congestion, parking and air quality problems, as well as the sustainability of our shopping centre. It includes a park-n-ride scheme from the M4 and could provide 1,600 additional underground parking spaces in Windsor, addressing providing underground parking without ugly multi-story car parks blighting the town centre.
"At the same time it creates a more beautiful riverside, developed by classical architects, reconnecting the town with the river and expanding Alexandra Gardens.
“Backed by an international team of world-leading contractors and engineering consultants, the schemes formal feasibility study has been submitted to Network Rail, which reviewed it positively, concluding that the scheme ‘appears not to have an adverse impact on the network, and indeed may contribute to broader strategic objectives such as provision of homes, facilitates regeneration or a reduction of road traffic, and therefore the System Operator would be content for the scheme to be progressed [by Windsor Link].’
“The Department of Transport has said that the although the Windsor Link did not qualify for the Market-Led Proposals scheme announced last year, as it is a new railway that will ultimately require government support in the form of contracts to run trains, it should instead be progressed via Network Rail and the council.
" The Department also said, ‘We assessed Windsor Link Railway Phase 1 as a scheme which… could generate significant local benefit, and it would be for the…local authority, to provide support to unlock those benefits.’
“Unfortunately, the council has so far preferred to focus on maximising the number of flats it will build on the coach park for short-term gain.
"On receiving the official reports on Windsor Link over a year ago, the council has given no indication that they have even read them. Rather than relying on hearsay, we would urge the council to behave more professionally, to read Network Rail and the Department’s detailed advice and to back Windsor.”
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