Government pledges £500m for Heathrow rail link
Published 12 Jul 2012 12:05 3 Comments
THE Government has today pledged £500m for a western rail link to Heathrow.
The Department for Transport (DfE) has not released details about which stations would be serviced by the link but Network Rail confirmed Reading is being looked at as an option.
The Chronicle understands that the Government wants Reading Station to be the main hub for the service.
Journey times and frequency of trains are also still to be decided.
The Government has earmarked the money for a new rail line from the Great Western Main Line near Slough to the airport.
It said the link will "significantly" improve connections from the Thames Valley, the west of England and Wales and could be up and running by 2021.
Transport secretary Justine Greening stressed the "commitment of up to £500m" towards the project is "subject to a business case and conclusion of agreements with the aviation industry".
She added: "This recognises the continued importance of Heathrow as our major international hub. Businesses west of the airport have been calling for this vital investment for many years.
"It will cut typically 30 minutes off the journey to Heathrow from the west of England and south Wales, with significant benefits for growing cities like Swindon, Bristol and Cardiff."
The Government made the funding pledge as it published a draft "aviation policy framework" document for consultation.
DfT spokeswoman Kathryn Dorrian said: "It is too early to say what the full path would look like - if they will stop all the time at Slough and Reading."
Network Rail is carrying out feasibility study of the proposed link on behalf of the Government.
Company spokesman Russell Spink said Reading is being looked at as one of the stations the link would service but no firm plans have been developed.
Last year at a House of Commons reception - attended by representatives from the Government, Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce, Network Rail and First Great Western - The Chronicle was told the most likely route would include a 3.72 mile railway line and tunnel linking platforms at Heathrow Terminal Five with the Great Western Mainline east of Langley Station.
Reading's business community has long been campaigning for improved rail access to Heathrow. Reading East MP, Rob Wilson, has also been pushing for the extension.
Companies in this area spend up to £10m annually on taxi fares to Heathrow because train travellers face either face a lengthy detour via London or catching Rail Air buses from Reading Station which take 40 minutes to complete the road journey.
This article appeared in Local Berkshire 12 Jul 12
Have your say. Post a comment on this article.
Jul 12, 13:24
Aren't there enough (OK too many) people in the UK as it is without making arrivals (OK permanent vacations) easier for the non-indigenous? I'm not sure why the Tories don't hand out benefit claim forms at Heathrow to make things even easier.
Quite ironic how Labour always get the blame when it comes to immigration but if anything the situation is no better if not worse under Tory...
Recommend? Yes 54 No 15
Jul 13, 12:23
What a totally irrelevant comment and one with 'anti-immigrant' overtones, (expressed as carefully as possible). What difference does it make how visitors travel onwards from the airport, as to whether they are entitled to be here in the first place?
Recommend? Yes 9 No 36
Jul 17, 09:51