Acceleration Unit priority demanded by Heathrow Southern Railway

Heathrow Southern Railway Ltd (HSRL) has called for the government’s new Transport Acceleration Unit to make resolving the issue of a public transport route to Heathrow Airport from the south a top priority.

HSRL – the private sector venture set up to transform the rail network to
Heathrow – welcomed the launch of the unit but highlighted the need for
attention to the airport’s southern access.

In a stakeholder update in June, the management team at HSRL said
progress on its proposal had been “obscured” by changes in government
and the coronavirus pandemic.

However, during an end of day adjournment debate in the House of
Commons last month, rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris said the
Department for Transport will “continue the southern access to Heathrow
, working with Network Rail and Heathrow to integrate it with the
western rail link and ensure efficient design and delivery.

The HSRL proposal involves building 10km of rail infrastructure from the
west end of the existing Terminal 5 station, mainly in tunnel, to connect to
the existing rail network near Staines and Virginia Water.

It will also enable electric trains to operate between Heathrow Airport and
London’s Waterloo terminus, while Waterloo East and Clapham Junction
will make the airport accessible from South London, Kent and Sussex
with just one change of train.

Following the launch of the Transport Acceleration Unit – which aims to
speed up project delivery – HSRL chief executive Chris Stokes
congratulated transport secretary Grant Shapps on “recognising the
need for acceleration of infrastructure delivery to help the UK bounce
back from the pandemic”.

He said HSRL is “ready to assist in resolving the decades-long issue of a
southern rail link to Heathrow Airport”.

Stokes added: “Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris told Parliament on 22
July that he would ‘move forward at pace’ with this project and it is now
time for the government to follow through on his commitment.

“We’ve been ready since the government issued its call for ideas in
March 2018 to get started on building this urgently needed railway, which
will make a major contribution to reducing carbon dioxide and other
harmful emissions by enabling a dramatic modal shift of airport users and
commuters from road to rail, as well as reducing congestion on the M25.”

Catherine Kennedy