Five bidders are in the running to build the first railway line under new government proposals aiming to fund new tracks entirely with private cash.
Hong Kong-based transport giant MTR, which runs South Western Railway from Waterloo to the West Country with FirstGroup, and a scheme involving Baroness Valentine, the HS2 director, are among those vying to build a line linking towns and cities south of Heathrow directly with the airport.
Bidders were invited to submit proposals in March as part of plans by ministers to inject extra cash into the railways.
Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, has been vocal about his desire for rail access to Heathrow from the south, as improved transport links bolster the argument in favour of the third runway expansion proposals.
Although proposals can still be submitted until the end of July, a source close to the Government project said new challengers are unlikely. Officials are due to meet bidders today to outline their priorities for the project.
The Heathrow Southern Railway bid backed by Baroness Valentine would link the airport to Staines on the Windsor-Staines line and connect to the existing South West main line between Byfleet and Woking.
The Windsor Link Railway scheme, headed by George Bathurst, would provide links from the airport to the south and west as part of a larger scheme.
A light rail system has also been proposed by Interlinking Transit Solutions, headed up by Canadian Peter Buckley, as part of its broader Greater London transport proposal.
The identity of the fifth bidder has not yet been disclosed.
Once the bid deadline passes in July, the Government is expected to provide an update on the next stage of the process in the autumn. Depending on the scheme chosen, trains could be running on the new line as early as 2025.Read The Full Telegraph Article