"The Ashridge Interchange Movement ('AIM') is a non-party
organisation that exists to promote the
Station Link Road
Station Bridge Link
For many years, a link road has been planned to join Wellington Road with Reading Road via the Station. Here's part of a map published in the 'Wokingham Times' in late October 1969 showing the station link road. For the full map, click here.
Such plans for a link road, keeping the station level crossing in place, should have been dropped in 1974 when the Woosehill Planning Inspector recommended that no major developments should take place affecting Barkham Road, on the grounds that the level crossing restricted the capacity of the road.
Unfortunately, even though the Inspector's recommendations formed part of the Woosehill District Plan, they lay forgotten, and the Station Link Road was still considered a possibility many years later; a Planning Policy should have been written to prevent this from happening. The Inspector's recommendations form Appendix 2 of the Woosehill District Plan (a transcript is available online by clicking here ):
A Berkshire County Council scheme for the Station Link Road from the mid-1990s included a complicated set of traffic lights to allow traffic from Barkham Road to continue to use the level crossing. As soon as the barriers are raised, traffic from Barkham Road and Station Road would get precedence over traffic from Wellington Road. However, the level crossing will continue to hold up traffic for long periods, thanks to increased concerns about Health and Safety: often, the barriers come down well before a train is due (this photo of the crossing is from 2006):
The barriers stay down if another train is due within a few minutes, and traffic queues can extend up to the Molly Millar's Lane junction. Delays of at least 7 minutes are a daily occurrence, and can frequently stretch beyond 10 minutes. It's this sheer unpredictability that cannot easily be represented in mathematical traffic models .
Although it could take only one minute outside the rush hour to get from Barkham Road south-west west of Molly Millar's Lane outside the morning or evening peak, the alternative route avoiding the level crossing via Molly Millar's Lane, Finchampstead Road and Wellington Road takes more than 3 minutes - and is not an option for lorries or buses because of the low bridges in Finchampstead Road. High vehicles can only use Barkham Road , so we cannot simply close the level crossing.
The latest proposals for a Station Link Road went out for consultation at the end of January 2012, with responses required by 6th April. The sheer complexity of the one-way systems and restrictions on left or right turns will cause immense confusion to anyone not used to Wokingham traffic, and is a recipe for congestion as drivers try to work out what to do. Even worse is the possibility that the single carriageway through the station to Reading Road will get clogged on wet days as drivers stop to drop-off or pick-up passengers - as frequently happens at Farnborough Station , blocking the way for buses and taxis for long periods.
There is a practical alternative to the Station Link Road. In order to avoid confusion, we shall refer to this alternative as the 'Station Bridge Link' via the Oxford Road and the Station Industrial Estate , as shown by the dark blue line on the map below.
There is room for a bridge over the railway, which would eliminate the level crossing for good. Here's an outline of the route:
A maxim often used in I.T. projects is 'K.I.S.S.', standing for 'Keep It Simple, Stupid'. The Council's proposed Station Link Road scheme is grossly over-complex, and assumes that all drivers will behave rationally and will know in advance which lanes to take. More often than not, given the scheme's complexity, they won't. In any case, the station level crossing barriers will be down longer as of 2014 , because there are planned to be 4 extra trains in the morning peak and 4 extra trains in the evening peak (allowing for 2 empty train movements to Reading in the morning and 2 empty train movements from Reading in the evening).
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