Published on : Friday, September 16, 2016
More than 80% of respondents indicated their support for proposals to improve connections to Heathrow Airport from the West during the first phase of formal consultation.
The proposed Western Rail Link to Heathrow will connect the Great Western Mainline to the country’s busiest airport, improving accessibility for passengers from the south coast, south west, South Wales and West Midlands, greatly reducing travel time for these passengers.
Current proposals would see the creation of a new line from Langley to London Heathrow, where services would call at Reading, Twyford, Maidenhead and Slough, before going on directly to Heathrow Terminal 5.
Services from Reading could take passengers to Terminal 5 in 26 minutes, cutting the current travel time by more than half, while passengers from Slough could arrive at Heathrow in seven minutes.The business case for the Western Rail Link to Heathrow is based on the demand and capacity that Heathrow currently serves.
An Atkins report commissioned in 2011 predicts the project would provide a large boost to the economy, generating approximately £800 million in inward investment and creating 42,000 new jobs. The proposed new link could also reduce the long-term impact of road travel on the environment, encouraging more people to use the train and lowering CO2 emissions equivalent to circa 30 million road miles per year.
During this consultation period, over 350 people attended 15 public events at venues in Iver, Langley and Colnbrook.The project received more than 950 feedback responses by email, letter and feedback cards, with 71% of respondents indicating they ‘strongly agreed’ when posed the question: ‘Do you agree with Network Rail’s plans to improve access to Heathrow from the West?’. A further 10% agreed, while 6% were undecided, 3% disagreed and 10% strongly disagreed.
The majority of responses came from the Thames Valley area and in particular from Iver, Langley and Colnbrook, where most of the construction work would take place if the plans got the go-ahead.
The project team has collated this feedback and is reviewing the preferred design option with Network Rail’s lead design contractor, Jacobs UK Ltd., which will be presented at the final phase of consultation, planned for early 2017. Possible mitigations for the environmental impact of the project will be presented at the consultation.