A proposed new direct rail link from the West to Heathrow will improve journeys to Britain’s busiest airport and help increase economic productivity in the Thames Valley
As part of the Railway Upgrade Plan the Department for Transport asked for development plans to build a new rail tunnel to link the Great Western Mainline to London Heathrow Terminal 5. The proposed rail connection would speed up journeys to Britain’s busiest international airport, by allowing passengers to travel to the airport from the South Coast, South West, South Wales and West Midlands without going into London Paddington.
Benefits for passengers
- Reduce rail journey times between Reading and Heathrow (by approximately 35 minutes).
- Direct trains between Reading, Slough and Heathrow (approximate journey time from Reading will be 26 minutes).
- More travel options for leisure and business travellers to London Heathrow, as well as the thousands of employees who work at the airport.
- Reduced congestion at London Paddington.
- Estimated £800m of economic activity in Britain, including additional economic benefits for the region.
- Create potential for 42,000 new jobs.
- Make CO2 savings equating to approximately 30 million road miles a year.
- Give 20 per cent of the UK population access to Heathrow via one interchange.
- Help to provide much needed congestion relief for the M4, M25 and M3 (55 per cent of journeys on the proposed service will be abstracted from the road).
Public consultation updateThe first stage of informal consultation took place in 2015; the second formal phase in early 2016. This consultation confirmed strong support for the proposed scheme from national and local stakeholders, as well as providing detailed information on local needs.
Work is ongoing with the Department for Transport on the development plans, taking into account how best to integrate the scheme with other major infrastructure projects in the area, as well as responding to new environmental requirements affecting major infrastructure projects and considering the future growth needs of the Great Western Mainline and any Southern rail access proposals to Heathrow.
Final statutory public consultation is required in advance of planning permission being sought from the Secretary of State through a Development Consent Order (DCO). It is now anticipated that there will be a final statutory public consultation in late spring 2018.