Consultation on Heathrow West rail access started

Posted on in News Archive

UK: Network Rail is starting a series of public exhibitions on plans for a new link connecting the railway into Paddington from the west with London Heathrow Airport.

The proposed link, subject to planning permission, includes a 5km tunnel from the Great Western Main Line to Heathrow Terminal 5, enabling passengers throughout the west to travel to the airport from Reading via Slough, without the need to change at Paddington station. This will mean faster, more convenient journeys for passengers and less congestion on the main line.

Heathrow West Image

Shorter, more direct journeys to and from Heathrow will also provide a significant opportunity for businesses across the Thames Valley, M4 corridor, south west and South Wales. With a combined economic output of over £100bn, the new link could enable these businesses to save time and money, increasing their productivity and helping to deliver economic growth in these regions.

Patrick Hallgate, Network Rail’s managing director for the Western route, said: “We are keen to seek the views of local communities and passengers on our plans for a new link to Heathrow. The proposal will improve journeys for millions of people each year, through the provision of a faster, more direct service. This service will also help to relieve congestion at Paddington and open opportunities for thousands of businesses, enabling them to become more competitive and increasing economic growth.

“The Western route is already one of the busiest in the country and is currently undergoing a major programme of investment including electrification, new track and signalling, and a new fleet of electric trains. Together with a new link to Heathrow, these investments will mean that the route is fit for the future and able to meet the challenge of an increasing demand for rail travel.”

Ruth Bagley, chief executive of Slough Borough Council and Thames Valley Berkshire’s Local Enterprise Partnership lead on the project, said: “Economic prosperity west of London is very heavily dependent on Heathrow yet perversely rail connectivity is poor, and there is currently no direct connection at all. The western rail link addresses this with a relatively simple tunnelled solution, providing quicker and more convenient journeys to Heathrow for millions of passengers to the west.

“Whether it is the thousands of people who work at the airport, the businesses which rely on global connectivity to drive economic growth and create jobs, or other airport passengers, I’m confident that this will deliver a step change in the quality and reliability of journeys. It will also relieve congestion on the roads and bring significant environmental benefits too.

“I’d like to congratulate Network Rail and the Department for Transport for their dedicated work to date, and urge all those with an interest to have their say on what could be a positive enhancement to the rail network and a boost to economic growth.”

The first stage of consultation on the plans starts this month and will consist of a series of public exhibitions in communities and stations potentially affected by the work. The dates of these events, together with further information about the scheme, are available on Network Rail’s website at www.networkrail.co.uk/westernheathrowlink.

Heathrow alignment map large