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.