Funding constraints at TfL main obstacle to delivering the project
New London Overground train would be used on line
Plans to create a new railway connecting Hounslow with Ealing, Brent and Barnet are still on track, council chiefs say.
The West London Orbital (WLO) would see an old freight line repurposed for the London Overground at an estimated cost of over £280 million.
West London boroughs have been campaigning for it for years, saying it would boost the region's economy – especially as the capital recovers from the pandemic.
Proposed stations along the WLO include: Brent Cross West, Neasden, Brentford, Syon Lane, Isleworth, Hounslow and Old Oak Common, where it would connect with Crossrail.
Other “potential” stations along the route include Hendon, Cricklewood, Lionel Road (Gunnersbury Park) and Kew Bridge.
These stations would also provide links to existing London Overground stations such as West Hampstead, Harlesden, Acton Central and South Acton.
The central part of the route would come from revamping four miles of track between Cricklewood and Acton, called the Dudding Hill Line.
It is hoped eight trains an hour could service the central section of the WLO, though fewer trains would run from end to end.
A TfL report from 2019 declared the WLO would hugely benefit areas along the route, some of which are currently quicker to travel between by car.
The new stops would also be located near designated “opportunity areas”, where huge new housing developments are planned.
On Wednesday, 17 February, council chiefs gave an update on the WLO's future at a West London Economic Prosperity Board, chaired by Steven Cowan, the leader of Hammersmith and Fulham.
Niall Bolger, the chief executive of Hounslow Council, told the board, “The infrastructure investment for this project will release enormous opportunity for West London at a relatively low cost and it's the sort of project we do need to progress and make the case strongly to government on.”
Andrew Barry-Purssell, head of the London Plan at the Greater London Authority, said TfL has already done a lot of planning work, and believes the economic benefits “would be significant”.
“Despite the very difficult situation that TfL finds itself in, the work on the West London Orbital is continuing,” he told the board.
“There are two reasons for that, one is that we're part funding it, the second is that TfL has already done quite a lot of work [on] scenario testing – looking at patterns of transport demand, as we recover from the pandemic.
“And against most of the scenarios they have tested, the West London Orbital actually shows up as being a very valuable project.”
He also said there may be complications with a junction at Acton Wells, which already “does a lot of work with the North London line… so there are options that have to be looked at in the next stage of work.”
However, a report presented to the board said TfL may not be able to provide its share of the funding until the 2030s.
“This means that there may not be TfL funding available to deliver the project to the current timetable in the 2020s,” the report said.
It also said the new line would help guarantee the construction of “15,774 additional homes”, generating “£2.188 billion in additional value”.
In September last year, the transport website IanVisits reported there were funding issues getting in the way of plans to modify the new Brent Cross West Station so that it could connect to the WLO.
Cath Shaw, the deputy chief executive of Barnet Council, suggested TfL could be close to agreeing £1.4 million for strengthening work and staircases that would connect the station to new WLO platforms.
Owen Sheppard - Local Democracy Reporter
February 18, 2021