Heathrow Southern Railway Limited reacts to UK Government’s publication of its Clean Air Strategy

Heathrow Southern Railway Limited (HSRL) – the independent venture set up to transform the rail network serving Britain’s busiest airport – has reacted to the publication by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) of the UK Government’s Clean Air Strategy.

Section 5 of the document (pp. 44-56) sets out actions designed to reduce harmful emissions from the transport sector, including the environmental benefits of rail for the conveyance of people and goods and the role of modal shift away from road transport in reducing emissions.

HSRL Chief Executive Graham Cross said:

Our new railway is urgently needed to give the millions of people who currently travel to and work at the existing two runway Heathrow Airport an alternative to the unbearably congested and polluting road system. HSRL’s new rail link will be even more essential to meet the demands of a three runway airport and, specifically the public transport mode share requirements of the Airports National Policy Statement approved by Parliament.

Heathrow Southern Railway is forecast to carry 33,000 passengers per day, saving around 86 million car km every year which equates to an annual saving of around 8,600 tons of CO2 and 2 tons of NOx. 

Opening up Heathrow to new direct rail services from Surrey and Hampshire, Old Oak Common and Paddington – making a significant contribution to cleaner air – can be secured through our scheme without any taxpayer funding of capital investment, our costs being recovered entirely from the growth in passenger ticket sales the new railway will generate.  After two years’ work with investor AECOM and key advisers, HSRL’s scheme is now well developed, demonstrably deliverable, and enjoys growing community support.

The challenge now is for the Government to come forward with a well paced, financeable process, bringing clarity on selection criteria and future timescales, which results in the appointment of a preferred developer. HSRL stands ready to respond immediately to such an opportunity.


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

Notes for editors:

  1. The DEFRA Clean Air Strategy may be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/clean-air-strategy-2019
  2. HSRL – the independent venture set up to transform the rail network serving Britain’s busiest airport – intends to create fast, easy and relaxing rail access to Heathrow Airport by building 8 miles of rail infrastructure from the west end of the existing Terminal 5 station, enabling 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).
  3. HSRL’s scheme 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. Connections at Waterloo East and Clapham Junction will make Heathrow accessible from Kent and Sussex with just one change of train.
  4. The best rail journey times projected by HSRL are 16 minutes from Woking to Heathrow, 26 minutes from Guildford to Heathrow and 6 minutes from Staines to Heathrow.
  5. The House of Commons Transport Committee stated that the new railway is needed now with a two runway airport to address severe road congestion and the consequences for poor air quality across London and Surrey, and will be essential to meet the demands of an even busier three runway airport.
  6. HSRL forecasts that the new railway could be open between 2025 and 2027.
  7. The Airports National Policy Statement approved by Parliament in June 2018 states at paragraph 3.51 “[Heathrow] airport will be expected to achieve a public transport mode share of at least 50% by 2030, and at least 55% by 2040, for passengers.”

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