Heathrow western rail link consultation begins

May 16 2018   | Region: London, South East, South West, East of England

Heathrow western rail link consultation begins
Six weeks of public consultation have begun on a new western rail link to Heathrow, providing direct access from the airport towards Reading and Slough. The 6.5km line would allow passengers coming from the west of England to reach Heathrow without having to change trains at London Paddington.
A 5km tunnel is proposed from Terminal 5 heading west beneath the M25 and M4, to connect with the Great Western Mainline between Langley and Iver. Two different routes for the section of tunnel close to the airport are being put forward.
It is hoped that the project will help to ease congestion on local roads including motorways. Construction would take five years and include 15 months of tunnelling. 
Network Rail’s Western route managing director Mark Langman said proposals have been refined as a direct result of feedback received from an earlier public engagement exercise. 
Passenger group London Travel Watch welcomes the proposal for a new western rail access to Heathrow. “The airport currently has a low proportion of public transport access, with only 9% of journeys to and from the airport in 2016 made by rail,” said operations and communications manager Richard Freeston-Clough.
“It will represent a significant improvement in access from places to the west of Heathrow, providing relief to a large amount of road congestion in and around the airport. There will also be air quality benefits as a result of the reduction in congestion.”
Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership chief executive Tim Smith said the economic benefits offered by the western rail link are “substantial”, creating £800M in additional economic activity and 42,000 jobs nationally.
He added that 55% of journeys on the proposed service will be abstracted from the road, delivering carbon dioxide savings equating to approximately 30M road miles a year, while helping to provide much needed congestion relief on some of the busiest stretches of the UK’s motorway network.
“All this from a 6km rail line, most of which is tunnelled, with no obvious planning, land ownership or technical obstacles to overcome; and a very favourable response to Network Rail’s public consultation exercises so far,” he added. 
A Heathrow airport spokesman added that the Western rail access project, along with other schemes such as improved Southern rail access, Crossrail, High Speed 2 via Old Oak Common and an upgraded Piccadilly Line service “will place Heathrow at the heart of an integrated rail system” and build on the airport’s strength as the “UK’s best connected transport hub.”
(Photo: Thomas Nugent and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence)

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