Heathrow Southern Railway Limited says London TravelWatch Report on surface access to the capital’s airports shows urgency of need for a new southern rail link to Heathrow

Heathrow Southern Railway Limited (HSRL) – the independent venture set up to transform the rail network serving Britain’s busiest airport – has commented on the publication of a major report by London TravelWatch showing that the proportion of passengers using public transport to reach the capital’s airports at Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton has declined.

The report – entitled ‘Way to Go’ – shows that the share of passengers using public transport to reach Heathrow has fallen from 41% in 2012 to 39.1% in 2016. Data collected by London TravelWatch shows that many people now see private hire vehicles as an easier and more reliable way of making their journey, and the percentage of people using private hire services to access Heathrow increased from 26% to 31.5% between 2010 and 2016.

HSRL Chief Executive Graham Cross said:

“The declining percentage of people using public transport to reach Heathrow shows the urgent need for a southern rail link from south west London, Surrey and Hampshire to reverse this alarming trend. This is especially important given the levels of road congestion around the existing two runway Heathrow which are bound to increase further as a result of the planned expansion unless rail connections are enhanced.

Congestion leads directly to the illegal levels of air pollution in west London, and it is important to draw the link between the London TravelWatch report and the Government’s Clean Air Strategy published just a few days earlier.

After two years’ work with investor AECOM and key advisers, HSRL has a well developed scheme with wide public support. New direct rail services from south west London, Surrey and Hampshire along with connectivity benefits to Old Oak Common and Paddington in west London can be secured through our scheme without the need for any taxpayers’ money because the costs of the project are met entirely from the growth in passenger ticket sales the new railway will generate. To maintain momentum on scheme development, we need the Department for Transport to move quickly to start a process resulting in the identification of a preferred developer.”

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

Notes for editors:

  1. London TravelWatch is the operating name for the London Transport Users Committee, the official watchdog representing the interests of transport users in and around London, and independent of the transport operators and government. London TravelWatch is sponsored and funded by the London Assembly, part of the Greater London Authority.
  2. The ‘Way to Go’ report may be accessed here: http://www.londontravelwatch.org.uk/news/view?id=730&x%5B0%5D=news/list
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. HSRL forecasts that the new railway could be open between 2025 and 2027.
  8. 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.”