Berkshire business urged to help fund western rail link development
By John Dickens • Published 23 Jul 2012 06:30 0 Comments
- Significant disruption on First Great Western train services to London Paddington
- Rail boss given key role in setting up Western Rail Access to Heathrow project
- Full steam ahead for £500m western rail access to Heathrow project
- Support for £100m Windsor to Heathrow railway link
- £75m railway tunnel project
BUSINESSES are being urged to throw cash into the proposed western rail link development pot to ensure Berkshire gets a 'seat at the table'.
Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for Transport, outlined her department's Aviation Policy Framework on Thursday last week and included a commitment to invest £500m in a western rail link to Heathrow, with feasibility studies indicating a new line would join east of Langley.
The Government is asking for £2m from the Thames Valley to fund drawing up detailed plans, costing £20m, to complete stage five of eight.
The next step would be to start construction and Slough Borough Council, who designed the original proposal, is urging Thames Valley businesses and councils to stump up the funds.
Dan Wilson, Western Rail Access to Heathrow (WRAtH) project officer, said: "We're addressing it as a way people can get a seat at the table and make sure we can get the development to be what we want it to be. We have a lot of different sources and are confident we'll be able to get the money together."
The proposed rail link would directly serve Slough with four trains every hour - slashing travel times from 45 to six minutes.
The same amount of trains would stop at Reading, with two services calling at Maidenhead/Twyford every hour. The rail link, which would be a tunnel, could be operational by 2021. Ruth Bagley, Slough Borough Council chief executive and project leader on behalf of Thames Valley Berkshire LEP, urged councillors to pledge funds from the council budget.
She was speaking at Monday's cabinet meeting, at the Chalvey Community Centre, in The Green.
Councillors acknowledged the importance of safeguarding the future of Heathrow as a 'hub airport' and pledged to draw up a statement on their position to future developments. Rob Anderson, council leader, said: "We have a vested interest in protecting our airport. The economy has given in to a double dip recession and we can't take Slough's position for granted.
"Our unique selling point is the Slough Trading Estate and its proximity to the airport. It is one of the reasons Slough has been so successful."
James Swindlehurst, commissioner for neighbourhoods and renewals for Slough Borough Council, said the council must protect itself from a possible third runaway being built on its land.