Heathrow Southern Railway Limited urges public and stakeholders to press for early action on new airport rail routes as consultation on expansion begins

Heathrow Southern Railway Limited (HSRL) – the independent venture set up to transform the rail network serving Britain’s busiest airport – has made the following statement in anticipation of tomorrow’s launch by Heathrow Airport Limited of its twelve and a half week statutory public consultation on the next stage of the expansion process.

HSRL Chief Executive Graham Cross said:

“Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) envisages that to achieve the increases in public transport use on which expansion is conditional it will have to restrain car use by imposing a Vehicle Access Charge (VAC) on all road vehicles arriving at the airport from the point Heathrow expands in 2026.  The Airports Commission identified that a VAC of around £40 per passenger car/taxi trip would be needed to achieve a significant shift to public transport.   

We believe a better way to for Heathrow to make expansion acceptable to neighbouring communities is to commit to the need for the southern rail link, which will give people from Surrey, Hampshire and south west London a quick, efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to road to reach the airport.

The rail link will properly tackle the underlying causes of road congestion and pollution and can be in place by the end of 2026 if commitments are made soon. 

Imposing a VAC is a tax on people from Surrey, Hampshire and south west London travelling to Heathrow for business, leisure and work because without the southern rail link in place they have little alternative but to drive.

HSRL urges members of the public and stakeholders such as local authorities and business organisations to call in their responses to the consultation for no VAC to be imposed until a southern rail link has been opened.” 


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

Notes for editors:

  1. Heathrow Airport’s thinking on an Ultra Low Emission Zone and Vehicle Access Charge is set out here: http://mediacentre.heathrow.com/pressrelease/details/81/Corporate-operational-24/11116
  2. The Airports National Policy Statement approved by Parliament in June 2018 requires HAL to achieve a public transport mode share of 50% by passengers by 2030 and a 55% share by 2040. The current share is 39%.
  3. Over 250,000 passengers a year travel from Guildford to Heathrow by car; almost 600,000 passengers a year travel from Richmond to Heathrow by car; 10,000 Surrey residents work at Heathrow Airport and 83% of them drive.
  4. The UK Department for Transport conducted a market sounding exercise with potential private sector promoters of a Southern Rail Link to Heathrow (SRLtH) during 2018 and is committed to setting out its next steps by the summer.
  5. HSRL 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 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).
  6. 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.
  7. 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 upon Thames to Heathrow.
  8. 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.