£1.2bn Heathrow rail connection plans revealed

Proposals to build a £1.2bn railway connecting the southern England with Heathrow Airport have been published.

Heathrow Southern Railway Ltd (HSR) has proposed a new route beginning in a section of tunnel from the west end of the Terminal 5 and continuing on the surface parallel to the M25 to a junction north of Chertsey, and connecting to the railway between Windsor and Staines.

The line could help Heathrow Airport demonstrate how road traffic to and from the airport will be reduced, in support of its third runway proposals.

The construction of the 12.8km stretch of railway would be privately financed and the costs are estimated at £1.2bn, including 30% contingency. HSR is a new company which has been set up to take the project forward. The HSR project taken off this year and now has a heavyweight board behind it, including Baroness Valentine as chair. She was formerly London First chief executive and is a non-executive director of High Speed 2 Ltd.

Under the proposals, HSR will own the line and the infrastructure will be regulated by the Office of Rail & Road (ORR). Operations and maintenance will be contracted out, on a similar basis to High Speed 1.

HSR said rail services from Heathrow can join the South Western Main Line at Byfleet Junction.

Network Rail proposals to build new flyovers at Woking and Basingstoke, and an extra platform at Woking, would facilitate the services, according to HSR.

The proposed HSR services include a route from Heathrow through Staines, Clapham Junction and Waterloo.

The second route proposed is a service from Basingstoke or Guildford through Woking via Heathrow to Paddington.

The plans also include a proposal for a station at the Crossrail/High Speed 2 (HS2) hub at Old Oak Common in west London.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “We have examined several potential options in order to understand whether there is a business case for southern rail access to Heathrow, and submitted this information to the Department for Transport for consideration.

“The decision on whether to continue developing these proposals would be taken by central government, and it is important to note that no options have been discounted at this stage.”

A Heathrow Airport spokeswoman said: “A new rail link connecting Heathrow to south London and Surrey is a huge opportunity to connect an additional 4.8M passengers to Heathrow and treble our rail capacity by 2040.

“With this plan, we can take more cars off the road and make it easier for passengers and colleagues to access the airport via sustainable public transport.

“Southern rail access in addition to Crossrail, western rail access, HS2 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.”

Written by Jess Clark

Reproduced by kind permission of New Civil Engineer