Plans for a new southern rail link to Heathrow Airport are facing delays and might not come into operation until 2030. A government-supported project for a mostly privately funded rail link connecting towns to the south of the airport has also been revamped so that it no longer mandates a heavy railway service.

They’ve left open options which include light rail, guided busways, autonomous pods — and even maglev, but the Heathrow Southern Railway (HSRL) group warns that the decision to open up the travel options pushes back the opening date unnecessarily.

While the government expects something to be ready for 2030, HSRL says it could have a conventional railway up and running by 2026, just ahead of the planned opening of a new rail link to Reading and beyond. The total cost is put at somewhere in the region of £1.3 billion to £1.6 billion.

HSRL’s current plans are to build 10 kilometres of rail infrastructure from the west end of the existing Terminal 5 station, mainly in tunnel, with an intermediate link with the Windsor-Staines Line and then onwards to connect to the existing rail network near Staines and Virginia Water.

(c) HSRL

The government report is now more ambiguous about how it will improve public transport from Surrey to Heathrow and is essentially leaving open the potential for something other than a conventional railway.

Not a monorail though.


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  1. Jon Jones says:

    They’re probably scared ****less after the spiralling costs of the two Crossrails.

  2. Melvyn says:

    Surely the simplest solution would be to extend Crossrail from Heathrow to connection / connections with SWR .Although through running would need extended AC overhead electrification as used on Abbey Wood branch .

    As for non steel wheel on rail projects they may work in Adventure Parks but not in real world where they can only go where their special Rail’s go and not through run onto existing networks.

  3. ChrisMitch says:

    Is anyone actually surprised by the delay…?

  4. JP says:

    What about connexion to the new terminal for the new runway? Nowhere can I find evidence that anyone’s even thinking about it, let alone building-in passive provision.
    There was me thinking that such provision under T5 showed a new common sense had blown through the minds of the planners. Now it seems as if this was but a momentary aberration.

    • Rich Plummer-Powell says:

      Transport provision at Heathrow is by terminal rather than runway, so I haven’t read anything that suggests a new railway station will be needed.

  5. Paul says:

    “What about connexion to the new terminal for the new runway?”
    I doubt the new runway will happen. It’s already expected to take until 2050 and cost £30bn. HAL are lagging far behind their supposed redevelopment schedule as it is, I think last time I saw most of the former T1 building is still standing?
    The climate emergency will put a final end to it eventually; either that or the human race will have bigger priorities.

    • JP says:

      You may well be right and the reasoning is on message, but I don’t think that it’s too much to ask for provision to be made for it in the planning and consent process.
      Costs (monetary, temporal and planetary) for extra engineering diagrams through to a re-route passive provision are obviously less than having to go in afterwards and smash the place up if the runway bulldozers swerve round supine Boris.

    • ADS says:

      there’s another argument that the (eventual) switch to electric aircraft will kill the noise problem … so London residents won’t get disturbed … and won’t object to flights !

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