A planned rail link from Heathrow heading out towards Reading and beyond has an uncertain future due to a funding dispute.

The rail link, estimated to cost around £900 million to build will run from the mainline railway to Heathrow Terminal 5, but critically, unlike all the other rail links at Heathrow which point towards London, this will point westwards. That will significantly shorten journey times for people heading to Heatherow from the west of England and Wales as they can avoid the detour into Paddington and back out again.

The Welsh Labour party MP, Chris Elmore asked the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps if the Government will confirm funding from the public purse for the rail link and to approve it.  Responding Grant Shapps said that the government’s support for the scheme is subject to the successful agreement of terms with the Heathrow Aviation industry.

In other words, the airport needs to pick up the bill, or at least a substantial chunk of it.

Subject to the funding being settled, Network Rail has been advised to expect to submit the application for Development Consent no later than summer 2020.

Separately, the Department for Transport is also working on a southern link to Heathrow and expects to issue some decision about how that will be privately funded later this year.


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  1. MilesT says:

    Surely it would be quicker (even now) for passengers from the west to exit at Reading, then go Reading to Hayes&Harlington, and then double back Hayes&Harlington to Heathrow? TflRail (eventually #Purpletrain) or GWR stopping services. If not change at Hayes then a little further in but not all the way to Paddington.

    Maybe with some timetabling tweaks to expedite the connection

  2. AJM says:

    It may be cheaper to put in a curve from west to south, leaving the GW mainline just west of the current junction to/from London and joining the existing route into Heathrow, rather than building a whole new route into the airport.

    • Kevin Roche says:

      If they want to stop people driving to the airport they need to make it easier.

    • James says:

      The A408 Stockley road, a lot of houses and some light industrial units all appear to be in the way of the path needed for a Western junction here. On top of that, a grade-separated junction with the existing lines towards Heathrow would be required – It doesn’t look like there’s the space for that either.

    • ADS says:

      AJM – that’s exactly what i was thinking …

      but then i vaguely remember previously hearing what James said about there not being enough space near the junction.

      although, maybe if you asked a different design team, they might be able to come up with a new idea of how to do it.

      hard to imagine that even if you had to knock down a few houses near the junction, it would cost anything like the £900m that is quoted for the brand new line.

  3. Robin Hassall says:

    When I was 26 I travelled from South Wales to Heathrow to board a plane for Africa. Having had to take a bus from Reading I wondered how long it would be before there was a rail connection. I am now 80 and still wondering!

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