Heathrow Southern Railway Limited (HSRL) – the independent venture set up to transform the rail network serving Britain’s busiest airport – has met the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the UK Department for Transport (DfT) and his officials to explore the next steps in securing a market led solution for a Southern Rail Link to Heathrow (SRLTH).
The HSRL team comprised the Chair, Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive Graham Cross, and Non-Executive Director David Barwell who represents investor AECOM.
Following the meeting, Graham Cross said:
The HSRL delegation explained how our 8 miles of new railway would enable trains to run between Hampshire, Surrey and Heathrow and between London Waterloo, south west London and Heathrow with journey times quicker and more reliable than by road, as well as creating a new link from Surrey and Hampshire to Old Oak Common and London Paddington.
We highlighted how today’s road journeys to and from Heathrow contribute to unbearable congestion on the M25 and local roads, leading to illegally poor air quality.
HSRL showed how the capital cost estimate of our new railway of between £1.3bn and £1.6bn can be privately financed without the need for government capital. Our forecasting shows that the fares paid by new rail passengers are sufficient to cover the financing and operating costs of the scheme without the need to levy a premium fare. So, the scheme can be 100% user funded via the farebox rather than being taxpayer funded.
Stressing the strong belief of AECOM and the founding investors in this scheme, we set out why we need to see the DfT laying out a clear timescale and process for decision making before incurring the next phase of expenditure. Therefore, we asked the Minister to launch a competitive bidding process no later than June 2019 to reinvigorate market sentiment and renew stakeholder confidence that a solution is to be forthcoming.
We were pleased that the minister confirmed that a southern rail link to Heathrow was a priority, and listened with interest and courtesy to our presentation. We now eagerly await further developments.