Wokingham station will need overhaul to cope with Airtrack
July 31, 2009
A major overhaul of Wokingham’s station would be needed to cope with a 60 per cent increase in barrier closures required for the high-speed link with Heathrow Airport.
Wokingham Borough Council officers have discussed moving the station down the track towards Reading as part of talks on how to improve the traffic chaos around Station Road.
More detailed plans for the Airtrack link show the level crossing in Barkham Road at the station would be closed for more than 30 minutes every hour if the proposal moves ahead – an additional 12 minutes to the time the barrier is lowered for now.
The report follows two public consultations with nearly 100 people going to an exhibition at the town hall in Market Place last year.
It states Airtrack would have a “severe adverse and significant effect” on traffic and community facilities on the town’s level crossing.
The report from Heathrow notes the council is studying options to improve the roads around the station, including the long-discussed option of a new road link.
This could run between Barkham Road and the A329.
Councillor Keith Baker, executive member for highways and transport at the council, said the possibility of building a bridge over the crossing had been discussed however it was highly unlikely because of the cost.
Heathrow appears to distance itself from any remodelling of Wokingham’s roads to cope with the additional pressure, saying any solution for the Barkham Road crossing “would not be part of the Airtrack Scheme”.
Under the proposal, the high-speed link between Reading and Heathrow would cut travel time between Wokingham and the airport by early an hour to just over 30 minutes.
However, the additional service will add 50 per cent more passenger trains, increasing from four to six in each direction every hour, passing through the station.
This will mean barrier closures will go up from six to an average of around 10 every hour during the day.
The report notes: “Existing peak traffic volumes struggle to make use of the available open crossing period due to the poor roundabout entry configuration.
“With additional Airtrack services, traffic using Barkham Road will experience longer delays and queues towards Wokingham [are] only infrequently likely to dissipate when the crossing is open due to the poor roundabout entry capacity.”
Cllr Baker said officers were in discussions with Network Rail about how traffic issues could be tackled, including the possibility of relocating the railway station.
He said project’s timing was difficult because the council is waiting for the final say on its core strategy, which sets out where homes, roads and other infrastructure will shape up by 2026, which is due after the summer.
Heathrow submitted its final plans to the government to get permission to begin work on Airtrack, which will involve major works to remodel Staines station, construct new rail lines and tunnelling and cost more than £600 million.
People have until Friday, September 18, to have a say on the plans.
For further information visit www.heathrowairport.com/airtrack.