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New light rail service could reconnect Wycombe and Maidenhead
Light rail could look similar to the one pictured in Stourbridge, West Midlands. Photo thanks to JPM Parry and Associates
A NEW rail service in the mould of the Docklands Light Railway in London could reconnect Maidenhead and High Wycombe nearly four decades after the line was closed.
The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) revealed to the Free Press it was looking at plans to restore the railway line between Bourne End and High Wycombe, which was shut in 1970.
It would re-establish the service from Maidenhead to High Wycombe which also ran through Cookham, Wooburn Green and Loudwater.
Improvements could be made to the existing Marlow line, allow passengers there to get directly to High Wycombe.
There could be a higher number of stop off points than the original service operating in similar fashion to a tram.
RBWM Councillor John Stretton, who represents the Cookham and Bisham ward, said: “This is very exciting and we are pushing as hard as we can to get it moved forward.
“It has so many advantages, if there was a dedicated service all the way to High Wycombe with a service every ten minutes or so the traffic would be taken off the road.
“You would have a high frequency which would service a lot of people. It would be very simple, easy and straight forward. It's not exorbitant in cost at all, considering all the benefits.”
He added the original railway line was always busy with commuters.
Chris Donnelly, political assistant to RBWM leader cllr David Burbage, said the council were “interested” in the project and although it was “looking at various options”, the ultra light rail option seemed the most attractive at this stage, following the success of the DLR in East London.
He said: “We recognise there's an issue with transport between Maidenhead and High Wycombe.
“Once we have seen all the options I'm going to put together a briefing paper on it and see what the best way to proceed is.”
He added: “We would like it as soon as possible if the numbers stack up.”
However, it could take four or five years to implement and it is an idea being considered rather than policy at the current time, Mr Donnelly said.
The Wycombe Society, which has been promoting the idea since 1994, welcomed RBWM's move.
The society's transport spokesman Dr Elsa Woodward said the old track is largely intact with its own tunnel under the M40.
The society believe it would require only 1200m of diversions where the original track has been built over, which is about 15 per cent of its length.
Dr Woodward produced a report on the idea and estimated motorists between Wycombe and the three Thames Valley towns of Slough, Maidenhead and Reading drove a daily total of 278,000 miles - equivalent to travelling 11 times round the world.
She used data from the 2001 census and statistics produced by WDC in September 2005 about commuter mileage.
She said there was currently no viable bus service between High Wycombe and Maidenhead.
“It's a vital missing link. There's huge traffic between Wycombe and the Thames Valley and there's no public transport if you want to get to a job on time there's really no alternative to the car.
“It's vital for the health of the area's economy.”
Dr Woodward added that ultra light rail is quiet, requires no overhead power supply and is extremely energy efficient.
There have been two studies examining the reinstatement commissioned by a Maidenhead businessman, Peter Prior, chairman of Summerleaze Ltd.
The preliminary investigation in June 2008 by Scott Wilson confirmed the feasibility.
A second carried out between November 2008 and February 2009 by Egis Mobilite included more detailed consideration of the necessary diversions.