HS4Air: A new railway proposal revealed for South East England

Posted: 7 March 2018 | | 5 comments

A new railway route has been proposed by London firm Expedition, creating a high-speed railway version of the M25, connecting both Gatwick and Heathrow airports…

An HS4Air proposal has been revealed for South East England

Expedition, a London-based engineering consultancy firm, have revealed their proposal for a new high-speed railway called HS4Air (High-Speed for Air).

The new railway would connect the existing HS1 with the planned HS2, linking both Gatwick and Heathrow airports. Also included would be a connection to the Great Western Main Line railway (GWML).

Along this planned route, passengers would be able to travel to either airport from cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Cardiff without the need to change trains; reducing road congestion, air pollution and travel times. Journey duration from Sussex and Kent to the Midlands and the West would also be reduced by up to one hour.

Moreover, HS4Air would bring direct international train services, from the Midlands and the North to Europe via the Channel Tunnel. The high-speed rail service to the city centre of Paris, from both Birmingham and Manchester, would be faster in comparison to flying.

Director of Expedition, Alistair Lenczner, Leader of the HS4Air proposal, said: “HS4Air has been developed to allow rail and aviation infrastructure projects in South East England that are currently unconnected to become joined-up. This will offer greatly enhanced benefits for users and provide better value for the investments currently being made in the UK’s strategic infrastructure.”


Credit: Weston Williamson + Partners/Expedition

With HS4Air, South East England’s transport network would become more environmentally-friendly with reduced carbon emissions and less air pollution. The region would experience stimulated economic growth across the nation as a result from the stronger transport links between cities. The nation’s distribution networks could also benefit from HS4Air by running cables and pipes alongside the railway.

“In a way HS4Air can be regarded as a high-speed railway version of the M25 around London, except that it allows much faster journey times with no congestion and with far less impact on the environment,” continued Alistair.

The proposal illustrates the route to be approximately 140km-long between the connections with HS1 at Ashford and HS2 near Denham. Twenty per cent of the line would be tunnelled to avoid impacting the landscape and 40 per cent would re-use the existing straight railway running between Tonbridge and Ashford which would require simple upgrading to operate high-speed trains.

“The proposed HS4Air project is an example of integrated strategic planning that spans across multiple infrastructure sectors that are too often planned within separate ‘silos’,” said Alistair. “Such integrated planning allows projects to achieve better results in terms of their land-use efficiency and investment value.”

Using the cost estimates from HS2 Phase 1, HS4Air has been estimated to cost approximately £10 billion and is expected to provide a similar transport network integration that already exists in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland.

5 responses to “HS4Air: A new railway proposal revealed for South East England”

  1. Tony Brady says:

    Why is the proposed route going through an area of Surrey (Newdigate) currently in the grip of increasing mini earthquakes, surely the reason for this, needs to be addressed, prior to tunnelling through the area affected by these earthquakes.

  2. Andrew Smith says:

    Many heavy trucks and lorries removed from our roads? I don’t see much freight on HS1, and is any freight service planned for HS2?

  3. Michael Selby says:

    An excellent proposal to help relieve congestion in the South-East of England. Utilising the line from Tonbridge to Redhill is an excellent way of minimising the land-take for such a project. It is the longest stretch of straight suburban railway in the whole of Europe. The planned connections at Gatwick and Heathrow airports are welcome, as is the connection with HS2 at nearby Denham. The proposed connection to the Great Western Main Line will benefit passengers travelling to/from the West Country.
    Many heavy trucks and lorries should be removed from our roads with corresponding benefits in air quality and road noise reduction.

  4. Owen O'Connor says:

    Those of us who live in the East Midlands, and other areas north of London, wishing to travel abroad, either through Heathrow, Gatwick or the Channel Tunnel would greatly welcome this. It would cut out the time delay, bottle neck and hassle of the finding our way through and across London. To avoid London and having to haul luggage up and down steps, etc., one either has to travel by car or by taxi. A bus is not a desirable alternative, particularly if disadvantaged by being a six footer. A relatively undisturbed comfortable train journey, by using something like that suggested, would be infinitely preferable.

  5. Richard Tolmach says:

    My iphone often gives me a warning about a particular call with the message “scam alert”. Why does this article remind me of this frequent message? The most nonperforming segment is the Gatwick to HS1 portion, which fairly obviously would not pay for its finance. The inability to run through from Continent to Manchester is institutional, so why would a redundant route suddenly make the “infeasible” access acceptable to those who want to cut themselves off from the Continent. Best wishes for those who dream for more connectivity and live in Britain.

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