In July 2009, BAA and Network Rail made an application under the Transport and Works Act, (TWA) to build a new rail line from Staines to Heathrow, and totally mess up Egham’s level crossings.
The applicants want to build a new line between the airport and Staines, which will improve public transport to the airport by allowing direct trains to Heathrow from Waterloo, Reading and Guildford. Two thirds of the additional trains (an extra 8 trains an hour, 2 to 3 minutes each) will go through Egham’s three already congested level crossings.
The Secretary of State for Transport considered the objections to the Application and decided to have a Public Inquiry, to decide whether Airtrack should be permitted, and on what conditions.
Egham has been united in demanding that a tunnel under at least one of our level crossing must be part of the project. However, because Airtrack is not planning to build anything in Egham, the Inspector will not need to consider what will happen in Egham if or when this scheme goes ahead. When the original Application was published in 2009, the Dept for Transport received submissions from about 1500 people and organisations. Out of these, 965 mentioned Egham’s level crossings as their reason for objecting to the application.
Based in the previous figures RBC had decided to “Object” to the scheme unless something is be done about our crossings. SCC also stated that Airtrack should fund “mitigation measures” to reduce the impact on Egham. RBC have not changed their position since the new figures were published. SCC have not yet considered whether to change theirs. As a result of the campaign Runnymede Borough Council (RBC), Surrey County Council (SCC), BAA and Network Rail were persuaded to carry of a feasibility study, and they now judge that a tunnel at Pooley Green is feasible, though the cost, estimated at £ 20 million will need to be justified using objective criteria.
So the only barriers to getting across the railway line are funding and political will.
***Airtrack‘s latest Environmental Statement says:”In all cases, responsibility for addressing the issues rests with Network Rail in operating the barriers and with the local highway and planning authorities to develop traffic, land use and infrastructure proposals in relation to policy and current and predicted traffic flows.”This is a totally unacceptable. This project is being promoted by BAA and it is a private sector project. We cannot allow them to push all the social and environmental costs onto us.
Our objectives should be:
to persuade the Inspector at the Public Inquiry that the impact on Egham must form part of her/his judgement about the scheme and then, that s/he makes funding for the tunnel a condition for the project being allowed to proceed;
to ensure that it is politically unacceptable for BAA to disclaim responsibility for the problems they will cause;
to persuade the Department for Transport and Surrey County Council (the Highways Authority for Egham) that the impacts of extra level crossing down-times means that funding the tunnel is economically and socially justified;
to ensure that our local Council, RBC, does not allow the problem to drift into the long grass. (OK, sorry about mixed metaphor but I have better things to do than find the right one);
to explain to residents that the impacts on them during construction will be worth putting up with;
to mobilise all those who will be affected by additional congestion (residents, businesses and organisations, health services, the emergency services, and users of local, through and nearby main roads);
to continue campaigning and raising the issue at every opportunity to put pressure on Network Rail to cooperate and to persuade the Secretary of State for Transport to push through a change in the law (as proposed by him in 2002)
to force Network Rail to “share” level crossings with road uses on a fair basis. There’s probably something YOU can do to help.