Latest Rail News

13.07.12

GWML Heathrow link to cut journeys by 30 minutes

A new £500m rail link to Heathrow Airport has been announced, which could cut journeys on the Great Western Main Line by up to 30 minutes. Transport secretary Justine Greening announced the funding as part of future plans on airports.

New track will be laid from Slough to Heathrow and is planned for completion by 2021.

Service specification has not yet been agreed, but the link would mean passengers would no longer have to travel via London Paddington to get to the airport, and people could travel directly fromCardiff.

Greening said: “We are providing funding for a new rail line from the Great Western main line near Slough to Heathrow which could provide significantly improved connections from theThamesValley, the west of England and Wales to the airport and journey time savings of up to 30 minutes.

“The next stage will be looking to the industry on a proposed route and it should be in operation by early 2020.”

A Network Rail GRIP 2 study last year concluded the most likely route would include a 3.72 mile stretch of track and tunnel linking platforms at Heathrow Terminal Five with the GWML east of Langley Station. Those promoting the scheme, known as WRAtH (Western Rail Access to Heathrow), said in a recent letter to Greening: "Estimates suggest that completion of GRIP 3, 4 and 5 could be achieved by 2016 at the latest, and at a cost of around £20m."

Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan said: “The Wales Office has always supported and recognised the importance of connectivity to Heathrow as a major UK air hub for Welsh business and Welsh passengers.

“The new rail link will not only provide a more convenient link, but will also be a key driver of growth for the region.”

First Great Western’s managing director Mark Hopwood said: “The commitment to £500m to fund western rail access to Heathrow is great news for local economies across the network.”

Hopwood had previously backed the idea saying it would “only take around four to five miles of new railway across land which is currently not really used for anything”, adding: “We think getting a link into Heathrow would not be as difficult as other railway projects being thought about. This is not going to happen overnight, but when I speak to the business communities of Slough, Reading, Swindon, Bristol and South Wales, they all seem very enthusiastic.”

The plans will be included in the Government’s HLOS, due to be published this month. 

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Comments

NEALE THOMAS   13/07/2012 at 15:27

Re: GWML Heathrow link to cut 30 mins} £500M 3.72 mile tracktunnel or £100k/metre so even that's 5x cheaper than Brum's extramaganza But once again it's Loonydonistic Luvvieland wot gets the goodies whilst rest of regions sweat in debt paying for their privileges and Brummies bear the buttend brunt as usual paying for their own posh poseurs to pop aboard rather than endure a 3 min walk between citycentre stations. Handcarted hell hath nothing worse to inflict on city citizenry than these ridiculous ripoffs on flatulently fashionable fads supposedly saving a planet that's tough enough to twofinger our feeble follies. @NEALETHOMASnet

Mo   13/07/2012 at 16:09

The old GWR line that ran from West Drayton to Staines passes very close toT5. Upgrade West Drayton station and the existing track, which is still in place as far as Colnebrook. Relay the track from Colnebrook along the old route in the direction of T5 a distance of perhaps a mile and you are there. Obvious really, and it wont cost £500million.

Thom   13/07/2012 at 16:58

Interesting thought Mo: I'm assuming Network Rail and the business community have discarded this option for some reason. If it was cheaper and as effective, they'd have leapt on it, as it would be a more likely candidate for DfT funding...

Chris M   15/07/2012 at 10:17

The single track of the old Staines West branch is threaded between the M4/M25 slip roads, there is no room to expand. Also the acute angle would mean a slow speed curve from the West. No, this scheme is much more sensible and straightforward. With the right services and stopping points this link will be good news for airport travellers and airport staff who live to the West of Heathrow.

Geoffrey Lee   20/07/2012 at 13:32

Main reasons for apparent high cost is crossings of M4 & M25 & airport spur, also very high ground water table in Colne Valley so tunnelling seems unlikely & might need a lot of viaduct. Not for nothing is the are relatively unused at present.

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