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Fears over planned road closure for Western Rail Link to Heathrow

A councillor has criticised Network Rail over its claims that key roads in Langley will not be affected by the proposed Western Rail Link to Heathrow (WRLtH) project.

The railway company, part of the Department for Transport (DfT), wants to build a 6.5km rail link connecting the Great Western Main Line and Heathrow Airport.

If the plans go ahead, Hollow Hill Lane, which links South Bucks with Langley, will be permanently closed.

Network Rail said it has carried out traffic modelling to predict the impact this could have on surrounding roads. Junctions including Langley High Street/Parlaunt Road, Langley High Street/Trelawney Avenue and the A4 London Road/ Langley High Street will all be ‘under capacity’ if the development goes ahead, the company said.

But Labour councillor Ted Plenty said these predictions ‘flied in the face of reality’ during a Neighbourhoods and Community Services Scrutiny Panel meeting on Tuesday.

Cllr Plenty (Lab, Langley St Mary’s) said: “Trelawney Avenue is at a total standstill, especially when schools kick out.

“To say that doesn’t need extra capacity is just flying in the face of reality.

“That may not be Network Rail’s fault as it’s at a standstill anyway, but to say it doesn’t need extra capacity, you’ve not been there.”

He added: “There are a number of junctions that are totally at capacity and if you’re saying they’re not at capacity are you willing to come out with me and actually look?”

A six-month trial closure of Hollow Hill Lane in August 2017 to assess the impact on Langley’s road network proved to be ‘deeply unpopular’ among motorists.

But Ruth Leiulette, senior sponsor at Network Rail, told Tuesday’s meeting she was confident that junctions such as Langley High Street and Trelawney Avenue could handle additional traffic.

She said: “There is sufficient road space and lane availability for the additional traffic that is anticipated to be redistributed to not have a significant impact on the time it takes someone to get through the junction.”

The meeting was told the council is currently working on potential junction upgrades and road widening which could be part-funded by Network Rail as part of a mitigation package.

If approved, the WRLtH is expected to open in 2028 and will shorten journey times between Slough and Heathrow terminal five to six to seven minutes.

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