Ashridge Interchange  

The Ship Inn from London Road, with Peach Street to the left

Market Place and Broad Street from Cockpit PathShute End looking northwards, with The Terrace on the right

   "The Ashridge Interchange Movement ('AIM') is a non-party organisation that exists to promote the
   best possible traffic solution for Wokingham for the least overall environmental impact."

                Station Link Road

 

Network Rail's Route Utilisation Strategy for
South West Trains Windsor Lines
- How will it affect Wokingham Station?

Planning Inspector's Recommendations in Appendix 2 of Woosehill District Plan 1974

Wokingham Borough Council's Consultation on Station Link Road, closing on 6th April 2012

DfT announcement of extra trains to Reading by 2014

 

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 ):

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):

Just occasionally, it's worth the wait. Click here to see the A4 Pacific 'Union of South Africa' The barriers are down at least 6 times an hour on Sundays, and more frequently during the week

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.

The Bridge Link from Oxford Road is shown in dark blue. It would emerge at the Reading Road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

 

 

There is room for a bridge over the railway, which would eliminate the level crossing for good. Here's an outline of the route:

The Council's Station Link Road is planned to pass across Station Road, which would become one-way from Shute End - with no turning allowed into the station!

The alternative solution wouldn't need complicated traffic lights at all. A re-aligned mini roundabout will do, thus simplifying the junction once the level crossing has been eliminated. Through traffic wouldn't need to pass the station forecourt at all. 

 

Although most traffic would flow more freely if the level crossing were simply closed, high vehicles such as this double-decker bus simply won't fit under the low Finchampstead Road bridges.

The level crossing must be replaced with an alternative route open to all vehicles.

View of Oxford Road from the historic footbridge - which will remain in place for the able-bodied to cross from Oxford Road when the level crossing is eliminated. However, the station's own footbridge must be equipped with lifts for easy access.

This part of Oxford Road has always taken goods traffic, firstly in the 1800s when there was a brickworks to the left of this photo, then in the 1900s when A.C Barnes sold cars on the site, and now with the Station Industrial Estate.

Here is the Oxford Road entrance to the station, with the level crossing and historic footbridge in the distance. Buses headed both to and from Wokingham over the 'Bridge Link' could stop outside the station at this point.

The bus interchange in the Station Link Road proposal simply doesn't make sense. It would cause bus journey times to be extended, thus defeating the object of the interchange.

This photo shows the set of industrial units to the right of the estate entrance, with another set of units behind.

This end of the industrial estate had been empty for some months as of January 2012. It is now occupied by a Halfords service centre.

The 'Bridge Link' would start at the estate entrance, with a bridge over the railway a little to the right of the church spire in this view.

It is possible for the set of industrial units shown on the right to remain open once the bridge link is built, but the units shown beyond them would need to be replaced - perhaps with an hotel, multi-story car-park or apartments.

The roadway by the second set of industrial units is wide enough at this end for a ramp and a single carriageway alongside for access. The ramp would bend to the right in the middle distance, leading to a bridge over the railway.

There is no need for land occupied by the cottages to the left of the industrial estate to be taken for the 'Bridge Link'.  

Through traffic should dwindle past these cottages and along the rest of Oxford Road, because it will be much quicker to use the 'Bridge Link' to get to Reading Road.
Looking further towards the railway, these units were partially empty as of January 2012. At the far end is a permanent-way building used by Network Rail.

View of the Station Industrial Estate from the Station Car Park, with the Network Rail permanent-way building to the right. The Bridge Link would cross the railway toward the left of this photo, and emerge at the Reading Road on land already owned by Wokingham Borough Council.

A well-designed bridge would affect very few car-park spaces, unlike the Station Link Road, which would reduce the capacity of the car-park by nearly a quarter unless an additional car-park deck were provided. 

The land along Reading Road is much higher than on the Oxford Road side of the railway.
Council-owned buildings along the Reading Road. These were acquired several years ago in readiness for the Inner Distribution Road, along with the Beches Manor site opposite.
The Beches Manor site, once occupied by an hotel that burned down many years ago, has now been used for a housing project, as seen in January 2012. Did the Council lack any strategic vision?

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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