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West London Orbital Railway: Plans to trial electric trains with a new west London railway in mind

"We are exploring battery powered trains among the options that available" - Leader of Brent Council, Councillor Muhammed Butt

West London may get a electric trains if plans for a new railway connecting north and west London go ahead.

The West London Economic Prosperity Board (WLEPB) met to discuss the latest plans for a West London Orbital Railway (WLO).

Electric trains were on the cross-council board's agenda following a visit by Transport for London (TfL) and West London Alliance (WLA) officers to a battery-powered train manufacturer in December last year.

The meeting's report states battery-powered trains are being considered for the WLO as an alternative to diesel, and that "there may be an opportunity to test a battery powered train in west London in 2018."

The West London Orbital Railway would consist of two new lines, one running from West Hampstead to Hounslow and another running from Hendon to Isleworth via Brent Cross.

The new railway would link Hendon to Hounslow(Image: TFL)

It could revolutionise travel for west Londoners allowing them to get directly from from north to west without having to go through central .

The boroughs of Brent , Barnet, Ealing , Hounslow , Harrow and Hammersmith and Fulham are in agreement about the WLO's feasibility.

The West London Orbital Railway would see the recommissioning of the current Dudding Hill line for passenger use(Image: TFL)

While the publication of Mayor’s Transport Strategy later this month will be a "key milestone" in the project's progress several steps need to be taken in the meantime.

Next steps towards a West London Orbital Railway

The WLEB need to take these steps to secure the WLO project:

  • Commission and deliver a funding study covering line development, construction and operation.
  • Develop the technical and business case for a possible future Housing Infrastructure Fund bid.
  • Further development of a project initiation document (PID) and longer- term project plan with delivery timeline, and the securing or adequate resources for undertaking this work going forward.
  • Establish Shadow Programme Board and consisting of,local government, TfL, NR (National Rail), GLA (Greater London Assembly), DfT (Department for Transport)
  • Establish a “project delivery group” consisting of officers covering transport, regeneration, planning and finance will also be established to oversee the day to day delivery of the scheme.
  • Ongoing engagement – meeting with senior members of DfT, developing relationships with NR and GLA planning and transport colleagues

The committee recognise WLO would have to work alongside other ongoing London rail projects including HS2 and Crossrail if WLO to be a success.

Draft of London-Mayor's transport strategy including West London Orbital route(Image: Mayor of London)

WLO would be delivered in four key stages:

1.Rail line and station development

2. Funding package development (covering technical analysis, construction and line operation)

3. Place making, housing and regeneration

4. Community and civic engagement and consultation, and equalities

Leader of Brent Council, Councillor Muhammed Butt, said: " Having a West London orbital railway line would be a huge boost for businesses and help to create new jobs in the area.

"We are of course still in the early stages of this project and there’s some way to go, particularly in securing funding for it. We think that it’s a feasible project as the train lines are already in place and we are exploring battery powered trains among the options that are available.

"Such a train line would also help relieve congestion on roads and pressures on other existing lines, cutting journey times in and around London, while providing a cleaner, greener and more sustainable mode of transport for west London, with new step-free stations along the line that are accessible for everyone."

The meeting was held on Wednesday February 21.

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