Wandsworth Back New Airport Link Plan

Want half hour to Heathrow journeys from local train stations

Wandsworth Council have given their qualified support to a new plan to utilise rail track to the south of Heathrow to create new direct links to the airport.

A report commissioned by Hounslow Council has recommended a modified plan from those suggested in an earlier study done on behalf of Wandsworth. In 2013 SKM Buchanan recommended a number of options including tunnelled track from the Feltham area. The latest report by WSP Parsons/Brinckerhoff is recommending an option that would require a new piece of track through the Bedfont area near the airport to Terminal 5 but would be less expensive as less tunnelling would be required.

Wandsworth Council responded to the consultation on the scheme saying that they would strongly support the idea as long as it had no negative impact on existing services and journey times out of Waterloo. In a letter to Hounslow Council, John Stone, Head of Forward Planning and Transportation at Wandsworth advocates a service with limited stops which would have a total journey time of 30 minutes or less between Waterloo and Terminal 5.

The assumption in the earlier report commissioned by Wandsworth was that the quicker journey time could only be achieved by the service not stopping at Queenstown Road, Wandsworth Town and Barnes. The implication seems to be that there would only be stops at Clapham Junction, Putney and Richmond.

This is unlikely to meet the approval of Hounslow Council who are proposing a metro style service that would take nearly an hour to get to Terminal 5 from Waterloo.

The new piece of track would branch out from the line towards Windsor, partially on a viaduct (east of the A30) and partially in tunnel (west of the A30) with a station in the vicinity of the Clockhouse Roundabout in Bedfont.

The report concludes that there was a favourable cost/benefit ratio to the plan which would cost less than £1 billion to implement and claims that it would represent ‘Very High Value for Money’ as defined by Department for Transport guidance. Mr Frost expressed some scepticism about the high cost/benefit ration in his letter in response to the report.

The plan would see a reduction in open green space in the area and involve a significant degree of visual intrusion due to the rail viaduct that would need to be built to provide the link. It would also probably require the demolition of properties at Wooldridge Court. When the Council launched a consultation on the scheme just over half of the 127 respondents were in favour with the majority who were against residents of homes that were threatened by the plan.

New possible routes to Heathrow airport

Diagram from previous report showing possible new routes to Heathrow

The current ‘Control Period’ on this section of the local railway runs until March 2019 by which time South West Trains have committed plans to increase the peak frequency of trains on the 'Windsor Lines' from 15tph to 18tph. Ultimately the capacity of this section of the railway is believed to be 20tph which might mean that services would need to be reduced elsewhere if a regular service to Heathrow was to be introduced. It was recently announced that Transport for London is likely to take over all London suburban railway lines when the current franchises expire.

Hounslow Council’s Cabinet considered the report at a recent meeting and authorised the Executive Director of Regeneration, Economic Development and Environment (REDe) to promote the scheme further.

February 3, 2016