What happens next?
Graham Cross, Chief Executive of Heathrow Southern Railway Limited (HSRL), writes:
“HSRL a well-developed scheme which meets the Department for Transport’s proposed Strategic Objectives for a Southern Rail Link to Heathrow. It is widely supported by stakeholders but will not happen by itself. We now need Government to publish a well paced timescale for identifying a preferred developer and giving a confirmation that once the new railway is built it will require trains to use it. If we can get this assurance soon it will be possible to complete the new rail link by the time Heathrow expansion occurs.”
Heathrow Airport’s own analysis shows that a Southern Rail Link of the sort proposed by HSRL would by 2040 bring 1 million more of the UK’s population within an hour of the airport by public transport, be used by 3.9 million air passengers and 0.75 million airport employees per year, and would raise public transport mode share by 4%. If Heathrow expansion occurs without an effective Southern Rail Link, road traffic volumes and the associated congestion and pollution between Surrey and the airport will remain stubbornly high.
HSRL’s position was encapsulated as follows by our Chair, Baroness Jo Valentine:
“We want to put many more communities within easy reach of the UK’s only hub airport by train, enabling them to reap economic benefits whilst at the same time reducing road congestion and improving air quality. Heathrow Airport must recognise that new rail links are necessary if it is to grow in a way which is acceptable to stakeholders.”