Guidance released by Government means new Southern Rail Link to Heathrow faces not being completed prior to 2030

Heathrow Southern Railway Limited (HSRL) – the independent venture set up to transform the rail network serving Britain’s busiest airport – has welcomed publication by the UK Department for Transport (DfT) of its Strategic Objectives for Southern Access to Heathrow (SAtH).  However, HSRL is concerned that the Government does not expect a new railway to be completed prior to 2030.

HSRL Chief Executive Graham Cross said:

“We believe our scheme meets the DfT’s Strategic Objectives.

Whilst their publication is welcome in showing the case for a new link, they no longer contain the certainty that this should be a conventional railway.  Injecting uncertainty by considering experimental transport technologies largely untested in the real world will delay the commencement of this vital new public transport link. 

We believe conventional rail is able to carry the volumes of passengers necessary to meet the public transport mode share target in the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) passed by Parliament in 2018 along with the ANPS’s requirement to be open as soon as reasonably practicable after the third runway, currently projected for 2026.  Whilst the DfT now envisages any link not being completed prior to 2030, our railway could be open and fully serving Surrey, Hampshire and South West London in 2026 if we start now.

We urge residents, businesses and stakeholders to continue pressing for urgent progress on a Southern Rail Link to Heathrow to meet the existing air quality emergency, ease road congestion and reduce the current high levels of greenhouse gases from surface transport.”

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

Notes for editors:

  1. The DfT’s Strategic Objectives are here:
  2. 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 to 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.
  3. 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.
  4. The 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).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.