Western Rail access to Heathrow (Wrath)

At the consultations on the Western Rail Access to Heathrow (WRAtH) project held by NetworkRail in Langley in early March, they explained that the proposed route for the rail link between Langley and Terminal 5 is via twin underground tunnels passing under Poyle and Colnbrook. Construction of the WRAtH will take place between 2020 and 2024 with the main construction site situated in the fields off Market Lane opposite Maplin Park.

The general benefits of the link when it comes into operation are substantial: shorter journey times from Slough to Heathrow, reduction of congestion in Paddington, relief of traffic on M4 and M25, reduction of Carbon Dioxide per year equivalent to 3 million passenger road miles and so forth. However, there will be no direct advantage to Langley residents as the WRAtH trains will not stop at Langley station even though there will be a heavy cost to Langley during construction in terms of congested roads, air pollution and noise. For residents of the News from Around Langley Page 5 Maplin Park area near the main building site, there will be extra hardships, having to put up with heavy drilling machinery on the roads, and lorries removing the excavated earth at regular and frequent intervals.

What is even more worrying is the threat of the permanent closure of important roads in that area with disastrous consequences to traffic through Langley High Street, Richings Park and Iver. The link between the Great Western Main Line and the tunnel will cross Hollow Hill Lane at a gentle gradient, at a level too low to allow vehicles to pass under, requiring the closure of the railway bridge over Market Lane and Hollow Hill Lane and the permanent closure of Hollow Hill Lane. This will mean that the traffic currently using the Market Lane-Mansion Lane route to M4 and M40 will divert to the already congested roads through Langley and the Ivers. So far no provision is being investigated to accommodate this traffic, estimated at thousands every day. NetworkRail do acknowledge that there will be traffic problems and assure us that they are ‘talking to’ Highway Authorities about ways of mitigating this. However, the ultimate responsibility for this lies with the Highway Authorities: Slough Borough Council and Bucks County Council, with South Bucks having powers of planning approval. So it is on them that residents should be putting more pressure, especially as Buckinghamshire authorities are unlikely to be sympathetic to the plight of Langley residents. We should be asking that the WRAtH project should not go ahead without an effective, alternative road scheme put in place.

The consultation period ends Monday 4th April. For more information about the project, and to contact them via the internet, please see: www.networkrail.co.uk/westernraillinktoheathrow .

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