What happens next?
Chris Stokes, Chief Executive of Heathrow Southern Railway Limited (HSRL), writes:
“HSRL has a well-developed scheme which meets the Department for Transport’s proposed Strategic Objectives for Southern Access 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 give 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 2027/28”
Heathrow Airport’s own analysis shows that Southern Access 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%. Without effective Southern Access, 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 prosper in a way which is acceptable to stakeholders.”