Local MPs Call for Heathrow Rail Link in Commons

'Scandalous' airport not connected 'for want of a few kilometres of track'

Two local MPs have called for the backing of the House of Commons for the construction of a rail link between Heathrow and Waterloo.

Ruth Cadbury and Seema Malhotra spoke in an an adjournment debate this month proposed by Ms Malhotra in which they promoted a scheme drawn up by Hounslow Council for a new stretch of track to be laid between Feltham and Heathrow.

They are calling for the proposal to be considered in the DfT’s Southern Rail Access project alongside previously proposed options.

Ms Cadbury said, “With a rail link from Feltham to Terminal 5, one could get from central London, via Waterloo in 45 minutes, and communities from Chiswick to Bedfont would benefit. This should be developed irrespective of expansion of Heathrow”.

Ms Malhotra said,“It is scandalous that the world’s busiest airport is not connected to south London and the whole of the south west it serves for want of a few kilometres of track linking Heathrow to Waterloo, intermediate stations in Hounslow, and the rest of the South East.”

The MPs also criticised the Department for Transport for not sufficiently engaging with local councils when it developed options last year for a new link to the Airport from the south.

In response the Minister, Paul Maynard MP, recognized recognised that there is a particular gap in the network around Heathrow and reassured the local MPs that the proposal is on the Government and Network Rail’s radar.

A report commissioned by the Council has suggested a that a new piece of track branching of 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 had the potential to provide a direct service from Waterloo. In doing so it would pass through stations such as Brentford, Chiswick, Isleworth, Kew Bridge and Syon Lane.

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.

The study by consultants at WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff builds on previous analysis of rail links in this area including the Airtrack service that was suggested by BAA in 2009 and a report commissioned in 2013 by Wandsworth Council and written by SKM Buchanan which recommended a number of options including tunnelled track from the Feltham area. The latest proposal reduces the amount of tunnelling required which significantly decreases the cost of implementation.

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.

October 26, 2016