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Groundbreaking ‘HS4Air’ line proposed, slashing Heathrow to Gatwick travel to just 15 minutes

Passengers could connect from Heathrow to Gatwick in just 15 minutes with new £10bn plans to create a high-speed HS4 line.

Proposals developed by engineering consultants Expedition say that “HS4Air” (High Speed for Air) will connect the existing HS1 rail line at Ashford to the planned HS2 rail line near Denham along the route that passes Gatwick and Heathrow airports.

The 87-mile-long track for HS4Air will also connect to the Great Western Main Line railway (GWML) to the north of Heathrow airport.

The proposed route would create a loop around London similar to one of the busiest motorways in the UK, the M25, reducing traffic and emissions released by cars on the motorway.

A 15-minute surface transfer shuttle time between Gatwick and Heathrow airports using dedicated high-speed shuttles between airport stations on the HS4Air railway will make it possible for passengers to make “convenient and reliable transfers” between the two airports.

Fast freight rail services could also benefit from the plans: freight can by-pass London by avoiding the capital’s busy rail networks, and reach ports such as Southampton to move goods to major European ports such as Antwerp or Rotterdam.

The creation of HS4Air would also dramatically reduces journey times for rail passengers travelling between places south of London and cities in the Midlands, the north and west UK.

Pro-rata costing based on equivalent cost per mile estimates of HS2 Phase 1 (2016 NAO assessment for HS2 Phase 1 cost), HS4Air is estimated to cost approximately £10bn.

Journey times between Heathrow and Gatwick are currently around 1hr and 30mins. New proposed lines reduce this to as little as 15 minutes long.

Expedition director Alistair Lenczner, who led development of the HS4Air proposals, 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.”

“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.”

Top image: Expedition 


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