Communities’ views sought as plans for a new rail link to London Heathrow progress

Published on : Tuesday, February 9, 2016

networkrail-placeholderResidents and businesses across the west, south west and Thames Valley are invited to have their say at a series of public consultation events on Network Rail’s updated plans for a new link connecting the rail network from the west to London Heathrow.

 

The proposed link, subject to planning permission, includes a 5km tunnel from the Great Western Main Line to Heathrow Terminal 5, enabling passengers throughout the west to travel to the airport from Reading, Twyford, Maidenhead and Slough, without the need to change at Paddington station. This will mean faster, more convenient journeys for passengers, with travel times expected to be around 26 minutes from Reading and seven minutes from Slough.

 

Shorter, more direct journeys to and from London Heathrow will also provide a significant opportunity for businesses across the Thames Valley, M4 corridor, south west and South Wales, enabling these businesses to save time and money, increasing their productivity and helping to deliver economic growth in these regions.

 

Since the first round of public information events last year, the team has been working hard to progress the plans for the link using the feedback received. This has included carrying out ground investigation work and environmental surveys; refining the exact location for the tunnel and assessing different design options; and investigating the construction process and ways in which to reduce any impact on neighbouring communities.

 

Mark Langman, Network Rail’s managing director for the Western route, said: “I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to provide us with feedback at our first round of events. This proved to be invaluable in helping us to develop the scheme and we are now at a stage where we would like to seek people’s views on our updated plans.

 

“This proposed link presents many opportunities for residents and businesses based across the Thames Valley, south west and west. It will not only provide millions of passengers with faster journeys, but it will also help to relieve congestion at London Paddington and open opportunities for thousands of businesses, enabling them to become more competitive and increasing economic growth.”

 

As part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan, extensive improvement work is currently taking place across the Great Western Main Line, including new tracks and signalling, and electrification in preparation for the arrival of a new fleet of longer, faster, quieter and greener electric trains. To ensure these upgrades inform the detailed plans for the new Heathrow link and to enable every community along the proposed route to comment on the proposal, the company will now submit the planning application for the scheme at the end of 2017.

 

Mark continued: “The Great Western Main Line is undergoing the biggest modernisation programme since the Victorian era and so it’s really important that in developing our plans for the Heathrow link, we take this extensive improvement work into account.

 

“Given how useful we found the feedback from the first round of events, we also want to ensure we capture the views of every stakeholder, business and community along the proposed route. This invaluable information will help put us in the best possible position to receive planning consent for the scheme.”

 

Ruth Bagley, chief executive of Slough Borough Council and Thames Valley Berkshire’s Local Enterprise Partnership lead on the project, said: “Significant progress has been made since the last public consultation – both with Sir Peter Hendy’s endorsement of a western rail link last December and the additional work Network Rail has been doing on the technical delivery of the project.

“It is vital that the millions of residents and businesses set to benefit from faster journeys to Heathrow have their say on these updated plans.

“As our highest strategic transport priority, we are working with Network Rail and other Local Enterprise Partnerships, particularly to the west of the airport, to ensure people know about the consultation and don’t miss the opportunity to comment.”

The second phase of the public consultation will take place between 23 February and 12 March, with a final submission date for feedback of 4 April.
Source:- Network Rail

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