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£500m Great Western to Heathrow rail link goes out to consultation

The new £500m rail link from the Great Western Main Line (GWML) at Slough to Heathrow Airport has moved a step closer to fruition as the plans go out to consultation.

The proposed link includes a 5km tunnel from the GWML to Heathrow Terminal 5, enabling passengers throughout the west to travel to the airport from Reading via Slough, without the need to change at Paddington.

This will mean faster, more convenient journeys for passengers, saving up to 30 minutes in journey time, as well as easing congestion on the main line.

Shorter, more direct journeys to and from Heathrow will also provide a significant opportunity for businesses across the Thames Valley, M4 corridor, south west and South Wales, says Network Rail. With a combined economic output of over £100bn, the new link could enable these businesses to save time and money, increasing their productivity and helping to deliver economic growth in these regions.

Patrick Hallgate, Network Rail’s managing director for the Western route, said: “We are keen to seek the views of local communities and passengers on our plans for a new link to Heathrow. The proposal will improve journeys for millions of people each year, through the provision of a faster, more direct service. This service will also help to relieve congestion at Paddington and open opportunities for thousands of businesses, enabling them to become more competitive and increasing economic growth.

“The Western route is already one of the busiest in the country and is currently undergoing a major programme of investment including electrification, new track and signalling, and a new fleet of electric trains. Together with a new link to Heathrow, these investments will mean that the route is fit for the future and able to meet the challenge of an increasing demand for rail travel.”

The proposed rail link will leave the Great Western Main Line at a new junction between Langley and Iver station and link in with existing railway platforms at Heathrow Terminal 5. It will provide the capacity for four trains per hour from Reading to Heathrow via Slough, with alternate services calling at Twyford and Maidenhead.

The link was originally announced in July 2012 by former transport secretary Justine Greening. At the time she said the plan was for the project to be completed by 2021.

The first stage of consultation on the plans starts this month and will consist of a series of public exhibitions in communities and stations potentially affected by the work. The dates of these events, together with further information about the scheme, are available on Network Rail’s website at

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at


Ian Dinmore   06/02/2015 at 13:08

Just wondered if any use of the old Staines West branch could be used?

Lesf   06/02/2015 at 22:13

I hope services would run THROUGH H'row rather than terminating there as suggested by the diagram. Through services would transform the capacity of the existing H'row stations without any need for new stations such as the proposed H'row Hub. Ian Dinmore is right that the line via Staines should be restored as another of the connections H'row needs to transform surface access.

Transtraxman   08/02/2015 at 16:22

From Heathrow the line should be extended, firstly, to Gatwick but then eventually on to Ashford. That way you could regional trains to serve the south and south east without any need to transit through London. The logical extension of that would be to run Paris, and Brussels - Amsterdam(and /or Cologne) rail services from Reading and the two airports. Just consider the pressure taken off cross London traffic and the runways at the two airports.

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