A FORMER councillor's seven year fight to realise his dream of a new direct Windsor railway link to London has taken a giant step towards becoming a reality.

Businessman George Bathurst, of Trinity Place, Windsor, has devoted years to promoting his plan to create a new rail tunnel linking the two lines between Windsor to Waterloo and Slough to Paddington.

The project is massive, involving an underground tunnel, the replacement of Windsor's two existing railway stations with one, as well as the transformation of the town's river front.

It got a major boost when the Government reversed its traditional reluctance to support privately led transport plans - as Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling declared his department keen to engage with promoters and investors of 'market led proposals.'

This week Mr Bathurst revealed that his Windsor Link Railway company has now formed a consortium involving one of the largest infrastructure investment funds in Europe, Meridiam SAS - and an official Market Led Proposal for the Windsor railway link scheme was submitted to the Government on Tuesday.

The scheme is expected to cost in the region of £370million.

Mr Bathurst said he hoped to have a development consent application ready for submission next year and that work could start in three to four years if it gets the go-ahead. It would take two to three years to complete.

He said: "I am very pleased and relieved that we have got the submission in.

"I have felt a kid doing exams, staying indoors working while everyone else is enjoying the lovely weather outside.

"I am now looking forward to a holiday."

Network Rail - the rail infrastucture company - is on board. A spokesman said the company welcomed the Government's call for more market led plans, saying: "We are pleased to have been working with the Windsor Link Railway, which is one of the first such schemes and we look forward to working with all market led proposal promoters."