Heathrow needs 'joined-up' rail services

Plans for a new local rail network unveiled by 2M

Plans for a new local rail network to tackle congestion on the roads around Heathrow have been unveiled by the 2M Group today.

The £1.5bn scheme would provide through services from all sides of the airport and connections to 150 stations with up to 40 trains an hour – equivalent to a train for every plane.

BAA figures show that, even without a third runway, passenger numbers at the airport would grow by a third by 2030.

With only limited projected improvements to rail links, this will add to local traffic congestion. The 2M Group says its more comprehensive scheme would take a million cars off the roads every year.

The new 'compass point' network could be built at a third of the cost of the Heathrow Hub scheme favoured by ministers and provide significantly greater benefits for local people.

Instead of focusing a high speed rail hub on the airport, the 2M scheme would comprise predominantly local services with links to existing main lines and a new London to Scotland high speed rail line from Euston.

The plans have been developed by the 2M Group as part of its support for alternatives to Heathrow expansion.

Wandsworth Council leader Edward Lister, speaking on behalf of 2M, said:

"Whether Heathrow gets a third runway or not, it desperately needs better rail access if the roads around the airport are to cope with rising passenger numbers.

"Airtrack and Crossrail by themselves won't be enough, while spending £4.5bn on a high speed hub that provided few local benefits would just drain resources from a genuine high speed link from Euston to the North and Scotland.

"Our scheme takes all the existing and proposed lines around Heathrow and knits them together. It's a joined-up scheme and a common sense approach that we hope everyone concerned about the environmental impact of the airport would support."

Speakers at today's 'Getting to Heathrow' launch included the study's author Colin Elliff, council leaders from Wandsworth and Richmond, local MPs and John Stewart from HACAN.

January 29, 2009