Chris Stokes appointed Chief Executive of Heathrow Southern Railway Limited as Graham Cross becomes Managing Director of SLC Investments

Heathrow Southern Railway Limited (HSRL) – the private sector venture set up to transform the rail network serving Britain’s busiest airport – is pleased to announce the appointment of Chris Stokes as its new Chief Executive.

Chris succeeds Graham Cross who has held the role for the past two years and has been appointed as head of SLC’s new rail investment business.

HSRL Chair, Baroness Jo Valentine, said:

“The HSRL team wishes Graham all the best in his exciting move.  His quick grasp of issues and clear-sightedness, combined with a pragmatic and dedicated attitude to getting the job done means that Heathrow Southern Railway is ready to progress delivery of Southern Access to Heathrow as soon as the Department for Transport announces its next steps.  We’re pleased that Graham will continue to be associated with HSRL as a non-executive director.

We’re also delighted that Chris Stokes is able to take up the role of Chief Executive at HSRL with such a crucial period of opportunity ahead of us.  Our privately-financed scheme for Southern Access to Heathrow meets the Department for Transport’s Strategic Objectives, delivering 5,000 seats per hour to the Airport on direct train services from over 20 stations across Surrey, Hampshire and south west London, with over 300 more just one easy change away.

HSRL is ready to deliver this urgently needed line using tried and tested main line railway technologies.  It will be the biggest infrastructure project in Surrey for a generation yet requires no funding from local or UK taxpayers, and can make a significant contribution to tackling rail and road congestion whilst reducing emissions.”

For further information visit or contact Mark Walker on 01733 767244 or 07742 925753.

Notes for editors:

  1. Chris Stokes is a highly respected, innovative and effective railway strategist with over 40 years’ experience in the rail industry. During his career in British Rail, Chris was Resources and Planning Director for InterCity, then Deputy Director for Network SouthEast.  He was subsequently Deputy Franchising Director, taking a leading role in the launch of the initial twenty five rail franchises. Chris was then an Executive Director at the Strategic Rail Authority, responsible for the future development of the network.
  2. HSRL intends to create fast, easy and relaxing rail access to Heathrow Airport by building 10 kilometres 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.
  3. The UK Department for Transport’s Strategic Objectives are here:
  4. The Airports National Policy Statement approved by Parliament in June 2018 requires Heathrow to achieve a public transport mode share of 50% by passengers by 2030 and a 55% share by 2040.  The current share is 39%. Southern Rail Access is expected to be delivered as soon as reasonably practicable after the opening of the new North West Runway at London Heathrow Airport which is currently predicted to be in 2026.
  5. HSRL’s new rail link will enable electric  trains to run from Woking, Guildford and Basingstoke to Heathrow Airport and on to Old Oak Common (for HS2) and London Paddington (for the Elizabeth Line).
  6. Heathrow Southern Railway will also enable electric trains to operate between Heathrow Airport and London’s Waterloo terminus via Clapham Junction, Putney, Hounslow, Twickenham, Richmond, Staines and other intermediate stations.  Waterloo East and Clapham Junction will make Heathrow accessible from Kent and Sussex with just one change of train.
  7. The best rail journey times projected by HSRL are 19 minutes from Woking to Heathrow, 29 minutes from Guildford to Heathrow and 6 minutes from Staines upon Thames to Heathrow.
  8. HSRL forecasts that the new railway will remove 86 million car kilometres from the road network each year, bringing a saving of around 8,600 tons of carbon dioxide and 2 tons of NOx per annum.  It is forecast to be used by 33,000 passengers per day and could be open by the end of 2026, coinciding with the projected opening date for the third runway at Heathrow.