A consultation on a new rail link from the West into Heathrow airport has, unsurprisingly, gained support from the respondents.
A railway consultation has to do something pretty bad to result in people not approving of improved rail connections, and this one would make it much easier to get to Heathrow from Reading and beyond. In total, 72% of respondents supported the plan, while 23% were opposed.
The plans would see a new rail spur leave the line half way between Langley and Iver and then dive into a tunnel that would run to Heathrow airport, and could potentially even run though to Paddington station as well.
Of those in support, the majority favoured a slightly cheaper option which removes the ability to terminate trains at Terminal 5, which could have an impact on how many trains can use the line, as they would have to share space with services currently running to Terminal 2 and 3.
It would however open up the possibility of the future Elizabeth line running to Reading via Heathrow skipping a couple of stations on the mainline route at West Drayton and Iver.
The main concern appears to be down to the plans needing a road near Iver to be closed permanently. This road, Hollow Hill Lane runs under the mainline railway tracks through a narrow bridge right by where the tracks would split off for the new spur to Heathrow.
The local residents are understandably concerned about that closure, and are repeating calls for a relief road to be built in the area to help divert traffic from the town centre.
A recent report commissioned by the council based on temporary closures of the road found a lot of traffic was redirected to the High Street, adding pressure on the road, and strength to the calls for the relief road bypass.
Further traffic modelling is being carried out to assess the effects of the planned permanent closure of Hollow Hill Lane/Mansion Lane. The results, expected in early 2019, will inform discussions to be held with local highway authorities about proportionate measures to reduce the impact of the closure.
If the plans are approved, construction on the £500 million rail link could start in 2021 with the first trains arriving at Heathrow from 2028.