Tuesday 9 Feb 2016

Communities’ views sought as plans for a new rail link to London Heathrow progress

Region & Route:
| Wales & Western: Western
| Wales & Western
| Southern

Residents and businesses across the west, south west and Thames Valley are invited to have their say at a series of public consultation events on Network Rail’s updated plans for a new link connecting the rail network from the west to London Heathrow.

The proposed link, subject to planning permission, includes a 5km tunnel from the Great Western Main Line to Heathrow Terminal 5, enabling passengers throughout the west to travel to the airport from Reading, Twyford, Maidenhead and Slough, without the need to change at Paddington station. This will mean faster, more convenient journeys for passengers, with travel times expected to be around 26 minutes from Reading and seven minutes from Slough.

Shorter, more direct journeys to and from London Heathrow will also provide a significant opportunity for businesses across the Thames Valley, M4 corridor, south west and South Wales, enabling these businesses to save time and money, increasing their productivity and helping to deliver economic growth in these regions.

Since the first round of public information events last year, the team has been working hard to progress the plans for the link using the feedback received. This has included carrying out ground investigation work and environmental surveys; refining the exact location for the tunnel and assessing different design options; and investigating the construction process and ways in which to reduce any impact on neighbouring communities.

Mark Langman, Network Rail’s managing director for the Western route, said: “I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to provide us with feedback at our first round of events. This proved to be invaluable in helping us to develop the scheme and we are now at a stage where we would like to seek people’s views on our updated plans.

“This proposed link presents many opportunities for residents and businesses based across the Thames Valley, south west and west. It will not only provide millions of passengers with faster journeys, but it will also help to relieve congestion at London Paddington and open opportunities for thousands of businesses, enabling them to become more competitive and increasing economic growth.”

As part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan, extensive improvement work is currently taking place across the Great Western Main Line, including new tracks and signalling, and electrification in preparation for the arrival of a new fleet of longer, faster, quieter and greener electric trains. To ensure these upgrades inform the detailed plans for the new Heathrow link and to enable every community along the proposed route to comment on the proposal, the company will now submit the planning application for the scheme at the end of 2017.

Mark continued: “The Great Western Main Line is undergoing the biggest modernisation programme since the Victorian era and so it’s really important that in developing our plans for the Heathrow link, we take this extensive improvement work into account.  

“Given how useful we found the feedback from the first round of events, we also want to ensure we capture the views of every stakeholder, business and community along the proposed route. This invaluable information will help put us in the best possible position to receive planning consent for the scheme.”

Ruth Bagley, chief executive of Slough Borough Council and Thames Valley Berkshire’s Local Enterprise Partnership lead on the project, said: “Significant progress has been made since the last public consultation – both with Sir Peter Hendy’s endorsement of a western rail link last December and the additional work Network Rail has been doing on the technical delivery of the project.

“It is vital that the millions of residents and businesses set to benefit from faster journeys to Heathrow have their say on these updated plans.

“As our highest strategic transport priority, we are working with Network Rail and other Local Enterprise Partnerships, particularly to the west of the airport, to ensure people know about the consultation and don’t miss the opportunity to comment.”

The second phase of the public consultation will take place between 23 February and 12 March, with a final submission date for feedback of 4 April. Details of each event are available on Network Rail’s website.


Notes to editors

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.

Interviews about the proposed link are available upon request. Please contact Media Relations Manager, Victoria Bradley, for further details (contact details below).

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Victoria Bradley
Media relations manager (Western route)
Network Rail
01793 389749 / 07710 938470

About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

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