"The Ashridge Interchange Movement ('AIM') is a non-party
organisation that exists to promote the
Route Utilisation Strategy, SWT Main Lines, published 21st March 2006
How will Network
Network Rail took over ownership and responsibility for railway track and stations a couple of years ago, and it is now actively examining each region under its control. On March 21st 2006, it published its first ‘Route Utilisation Strategy’ (RUS) , which was for theSouth-West Trains area.
Why was the ‘Route Utilisation Strategy’ important for Wokingham? It’s because Wokingham Station’s platforms needed to be lengthened as soon as possible.The RUS is no longer available from the Network Rail web-site, but here are a few extracts:
“There is no practical scope to run additional trains into London Waterloo in the high peak, and the existing trains are at their maximum permitted length. Over the whole peak period, some crowded trains in the peak shoulders can be lengthened. High priority cases have been identified that should be lengthened as soon as practicable.”
“The redevelopment of Waterloo station is a key step towards the operation of longer trains – first ten cars, later twelve – across the suburban network. It is recommended that the entire suburban network is extended for ten-car operation by 2014, beginning with the Windsor and Reading lines which are the most crowded.”
“It is recommended that the first lengthening project should be the Windsor/Reading lines, which are the most crowded at present, and should be timed to make use of the first phase of the Waterloo station development project. This should be followed by the other suburban routes in accordance with the development of project business cases and the interface with the ongoing work at Waterloo, but all suburban routes should have ten-car trains in the peak by 2014. In view of the anticipated longer-term requirement for twelve-car operation, where appropriate the platform lengthening works for ten-car operation will include passive provision for further lengthening to twelve cars.”
Lengthening trains on the Reading – Waterloo Route
The RUS recognised that trains will need to be lengthened to cope with peak-hour demand, and is planning for trains to be 10 coaches long across the SWT network within the next few years, and for some to be 12 coaches long in the medium term.
The first priority will be the 'Windsor Lines', including the Reading-Waterloo route. Work will start soon on the former Waterloo International Terminal now that it is no longer needed for Eurostar services. Eurostar moved to St. Pancras in 2007, and the platforms at Waterloo Internation have remained closed until now.
How can platforms be lengthened at Wokingham?
As shown elsewhere in this site, it is physically possible to put a road bridge from Oxford Road over the railway, and the new road could emerge on Council land on Reading Road. Wokingham’s residents must also demand the elimination of the level crossing bottleneck.
A more recent Route Utilisation Strategy has been published covering London and the South-East. The 'Windsor Lines' are in section G, and Option G1 is for additional peak-hour trains from Reading in the morning and to Reading in the evening. To download the Management Summary of this report, click here .
Train Horns and Wokingham Station
Wokingham Borough Council's Local Transport Plan to 2011 gave some information on why train horns must be sounded at level crossings. The new train horns are much louder than their predecessors, and have become a major nuisance to nearby residents. Here’s an extract from the Plan:
Section 11.6.4: Rail Traffic Generated Noise
“As already described a number of railway lines intersect the District across both urban and rural areas. Wokingham District Council is in ongoing consultation with rail authorities to minimise any nuisance to residents affected by rail noise. During the last year, South West Trains (SWT) has been replacing their rolling stock on the Waterloo line and noise disturbance has resulted from the train horns.
“South West Trains have received several complaints about this and, to address the problem, they have agreed to amend the rules for the use of warning horns at stations to ensure that drivers only use the "low/soft" tone available on modern horn equipment. This is a major issue across most of the Network Rail infrastructure and a number of meetings have been held to determine what might be done, without compromising safety.
legal reasons why the trains need to use their horns, primarily to provide a
warning when approaching a level crossing. Wokingham Station has around six
trains per hour and has a manned level crossing just outside the station on the
Waterloo line and two unmanned crossings on the way to Bracknell. Therefore,
horn noise can be a
disturbance. The change to using low/soft tones only should be completed by the
end of April and will particularly benefit people who live near stations and
If the level crossing were to be
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