BAA today announced that they are withdrawing the application to build Airtrack, citing “concerns raised by local residents about the impact of Airtrack… including level crossings” and a failure “to develop solutions which fully address these concerns”.
Airtrack Update February 2015
The Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon. Philip Hammond, who is also MP for Runnymede (and Weybridge) speaking to the Runnymede Business Partnership on 04 February confirmed that Airtrack could not go forward in its current form if it led to an increase in down-times of Egham Level Crossings.
Mr Hammond had met with Borough and County Councillors from the ruling party, highways representatives, Network Rail, BAA and the Rail regulator at the end of January. Possible solutions were explored, including abandoning the SouthWestern route.
BAA have announced that it will be several months before they have made a decision about whether to proceed with the project. However, it does not appear that any viable solutions were identified. The option of improving the signalling regime to reduce down-time per train remains the Minister’s preferred solution, but he did not state whether Network Rail and the Regulator could see any way to achieving this.
Mr Hammond was asked whether he would introduce legislation to redress the imbalance in rights between road and railway at level crossings, and although he wanted to change the balance, he did not plan to introduce primary legislation to effect this.
Mr Hammond also confirmed that he stood by every word of his article in the Staines and Egham News, in which he described BAA’s offer of £ 11 million to Surrey County Council as a bribe.