New rail link to Heathrow Airport reaches final consultation stage
Members of the public are invited to submit their view for the final time on a western rail link to Heathrow Airport, helping to conclude the design of the proposal…
Rail users, communities, businesses and other interested parties have been consulted on a potential new rail link that would directly connect the Great Western Main Line to London Heathrow Airport from the West.
The link would allow passengers to travel directly to Heathrow Airport from Reading and Slough, without a change at London Paddington. According to Network Rail, this would reduce the journey time to Heathrow to 26 minutes from Reading and seven minutes from Slough.
The new link would help ease congestion on the roads and increase economic growth within the Thames Valley and surrounding areas.
One thousand responses were received during the two previous rounds of public engagement in 2015 and 2016 and the final round will run for six weeks from 11 May 2018 until 22 June 2018.
The plans, funded by the Department for Transport to enable the development of a detailed proposal, are based on serving the needs of the airport’s existing two-runway capacity.
Mark Langman, Route Managing Director for Network Rail’s Western route, explained: “We have been working hard to refine our proposals as a direct result of the feedback we received. The updated plans would have the least impact on the environment and would deliver the fastest journey times. We’re also conscious of the impact on local communities so we’ve worked hard to make sure our plans work with other developments in the area. We would like to hear views on our updated proposals before applying for consent to build the new link.”
The proposed Western Rail Link to Heathrow would leave the Great Western Main Line between Langley and Iver via a short stretch of open railway before entering a new five-kilometre tunnel. The tunnel would pass under Richings Park and Colnbrook and then join existing rail lines underground at Heathrow Terminal 5.
Although the majority of the proposed rail link is underground, the new tunnel would require up to five access buildings above ground along the route, with two providing ventilation.
Residents and interested parties are invited to provide feedback on the proposals to help finalise the designs. There will then be 18 consultation events in and around the area to enable locals to find out more, ask questions and express their views.
Following the consultation, all responses will be analysed and Network Rail will publish finalised plans and hold public information events in late 2018/early 2019. A Development Consent Order application will subsequently be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in 2019. This will seek the required consent to build the new railway in line with the plans that have been developed, with a final decision by the Secretary of State for Transport.