The Anonymous Widower

Is This One Of The Most Valuable Sites For New Development In The UK?

I don’t question the engineering behind the Windsor Link Railway, but I do question whether the project is viable financially.

Property Development

Obviously, the key to financial viability is the property development opportunities that the building of the Windsor Link Railway will enable.

I don’t know much about property development, but from conversations with serious property developers over the last few years, I can say this.

  • Some of the sums of money that can be involved are immense.
  • Location is still as important as it ever was.
  • Car parking can be reduced in developments above stations, which reduces construction costs.

An infrastructure investor from a large insurance company, also told me that developments with a new station and possibly a few new trains are easy to finance as a package.

Property Development At Windsor And Eton Riverside Station

Look at this Google Map of the Windsor and Eton Riverside station and the River Thames.

Windsor And Eton Riverside Station And The Thames

Windsor And Eton Riverside Station And The Thames

The railway and the adjacent car parks, use a surprisingly large amount of land, that would be released by the building of the Windsor Link Railway.

The Windsor Link Railway could be a single track tunnel, as the maximum frequency would only be four trains per hour in both directions, which would enter the tunnel around the end of the current platforms.

Obviously, all of the land where the current station and car parks would be available for development. There would just be a rail tunnel in the basement.

I also feel that done properly, this development with its superb location on the river, should be car-free.

If that is the case, then perhaps Windsor needs a station under this development?

As the development will be pretty grand and very desirable, I would design a station with the following characteristics.

  • Single-platform able to accept twelve-car trains. We don’t want to build a restriction for the future.
  • All trains could be IPEMUs running on batteries in the tunnel. Quiet, very green and no dangerous electrification.
  • Platform-edge doors. They’re probably needed under EU safety legislation.
  • Double-ended with one entrance in the development and another in Thames Street. If tourists can’t drive, they need to be in the centre.

I think with modern station design, that a single-platform station would be sufficient, although, it would probably restrict services to four trains per hour in each direction.

We’ve never built a combined up-market station and luxury development in this country yet, although there are quite a few stations like Dalston Junction with lots of dwellings on the top.

Windsor And Eton Riverside could be the place to start.

Property Development At Windsor And Eton Central Station

If the Riverside site could be properly developed, what about, where the Windsor Link Railway are proposing to put their proposed Windsor Royal station.

This is a Google Map of the area to the West of Windsor And Eton Central station.

WindsorAndEtonCentralStation2

Note how the area is dominated  by coach and car parks. Visitors want to come to see the river and the castle, socialise a bit, have a drink and a meal, and perhaps buy some tatty souvenirs. They don’t want to look at car and coach parks.

In Connecting The Windsor Link Railway To The Slough To Windsor And Eton Line, I looked at the engineering and I don’t think building the rail connection is impossible.

It is my view, that you build the railway and the station in the best way for train operation and passenger convenience. The station would probably have the following characteristics.

It could be a traditional surface station or underground, with minimal buildings above the surface.

I prefer the underground station, as it has other advantages.

  • There would be lots of entrances facing in all directions. Think fosteritos!
  • It could have a single-platform or a double-platform/island layout, capable of handling twelve-car trains.
  • Platform-edge doors.
  • A single track would lead to Slough and also to the tunnel under Windsor.

In the hole for an underground station, it would also probably be a good idea to build an adequately-sized underground car and coach park.

But surely visitors need some form of decent Park-And-Ride using an uprated train service. Such a station is envisaged by the Windsor Link Railway at Chalvey Interchange, which is South of Slough close to the M4.

Once the new station and the railway is fully connected, there is a magnificent opportunity to create a world-class park and related development over the top, between the existing railway viaduct and the iconic Thames.

The redundant Central station and the unused part of the massive viaduct would be developed appropriately.

Let’s face it Windsor is rather a crap and tatty tourist dump at the present time. The Windsor Link Railway could give the town the opportunity to give the historic town and castle the environment and status, it needs and deserves.

The Trains

In The IPEMU And The Windsor Link Railway, I wrote how IPEMU trains could make the design and building of the Windsor Link Railway easier and more affordable.

I believe it is essential that the Windsor Link Railway is run using trains with an IPEMU capability.

I also believe that as I saw in Future-Proofing The Uckfield Branch, that all platforms including the bay platform at Slough station must be capable of accepting twelve-car trains.

I am assured that this is in the design.

The Central Tunnel

I would suspect that many people would feel that digging the central tunnel across Windsor will be an enormously  expensive operation.

Construction companies put in cut-and-cover tunnels like this all over the world and especially in Germany. The last tunnel, I saw being built was the large Stadtbahn Tunnel in Karlsruhe right down the main street, which would take the German version of the Class 399 tram-train.

Digging A Big Hole

Whilst this tunnel is controversial and has its problems, it is much larger than that proposed through Windsor. The final cost estimate for Karlsruhe eas €588million for a double-track tunnel, which is 3.5km. long and has seven stops.

In the UK, the only similar tunnel is the Dalston Western Curve, where a new tunnel was dug along an existing alignment.

This article in the Londonist describes a visit to the tunnel before it opened.

Intriguingly, the Dalston tunnel was reportedly dug by a German sub-contractor, who specialise in getting trams in tight places.

We sometimes seem too conservative when we dig tunnels. I can’t think of a cut-and-cover tunnel built in the last twenty years in the UK? Not even one built to create an entrance to a car park!

In June last year I wrote Walking The Proposed Route Of The Windsor Link Railway. I felt afterwards that a single-track tunnel between the area of the Riverside station and a new Windsor Royal station to the North of the current Central station would be possible.

Since then, the IPEMU train has become a serious possibility and if trains on the Windsor Link Railway had this capability, then the tunnel could have these characteristics.

  • Single-track tunnel.
  • Built using cut-and-cover.
  • No electrification.
  • IPEMU trains only in the tunnel.
  • Evacuation walkway like the DLR.
  • No massive ventilation and evacuation shafts.

My project management knowledge tells me, that this is the sort of tunnel, that could be built without causing too much disruption to train services and road traffic, by getting all of the jobs in the right logical order.

Conclusion

The Windsor Link Railway, is a project that must be judged as a whole.

But do that and there is a lot of money to be made from property development, which would more than pay for the railway.

February 24, 2016 - Posted by | Travel | , , , , ,

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