Little more than six months after Chris Grayling invited third party proposals for a new southern rail link to Heathrow, a new map has been unveiled of a network which could cut travel times to the airport by half.
Heathrow Southern Railway Limited (HSRL) is the organisation behind the link – an independent venture set up to transform the rail network serving Britain’s busiest airport – with those behind it highlighting the need for such a line and estimate the construction costs as anything from £1.3bn - £1.6bn.
The network would consist of eight miles of new electric railway, running mostly through tunnels and would aim to connect Heathrow Airport by train to south west London and Surrey. Currently, there is two shortlisted privately financed route options with the first at the lower end of £1.3bn and the second at the higher end of £1.6bn.
Central to aims of the project is getting people off the roads and onto rail by giving public transport options to areas which for decades have had no option.
Heathrow Southern Railway underline the impact of its creation by claiming links in Staines, Woking and Guildford would reduce the travel time to the airport by 10, 19 and 29 minutes respectively, with trains running at least twice an hour from each station.
Earlier this year, referring specifically to the proposed Heathrow line, the transport secretary said it would help ensure the airport is even more accessible to those across the west and south of the UK and would be in addition to the £47bn Network Rail is already planning for the next five years. The construction of such a network could provide a clear indication of how the government sees large rail projects being funded in the future.
Commenting on third party rail involvement, Grayling has said: “By encouraging innovative ideas and new investment on our railways, we can relieve the burden on taxpayers and fare payers with projects that match our transport needs.”
HSRL chief executive Graham Cross has said how a Heathrow Southern Railway would bring “immediate mitigation to road congestion and air quality”.