Plans unveiled for direct rail route from south London to Heathrow (UK)

Wandsworth Coucil has unveiled plans for a new direct rail service from south London to Heathrow Airport.

The plans - which are based on BAA's Airtrack scheme - would provide four trains an hour from Waterloo to Terminal 5 with stops in the borough at Clapham Junction and Putney.

The plans avoid routing extra trains through level crossings in Mortlake and Egham. This was a key problem with the original scheme which was scrapped by BAA in April.

Now Wandsworth has come up with a new plan - called Airtrack-Lite – that routes two trains an hour from Waterloo via the Hounslow loop. Two existing services on the Waterloo-Windsor line would split at Staines to provide a further direct link to Terminal Five.

Two services an hour would also come up from Weybridge to Heathrow - again without adding extra frequencies over level crossings at Egham.

The new scheme would require a new station at Staines and a new stretch of track from here to Terminal 5. The rest of the route would run along existing lines.

Heathrow is one of Europe's busiest airports but is served only by the Heathrow Express to Paddington and by the Piccadilly Line. This forces Wandsworth residents to travel north through London to join a Heathrow bound service rather than travelling direct.

Patrick Twist, Infrastructure Partner at Pinsent Masons welcomed the Council's proposals. He said that current rail access to Heathrow via Paddington and the Piccadilly line leaves South West London without a service.

"It's a neat solution which gets round a number of difficulties with the BAA proposal and does so at a much lower cost. It can only be beneficial to businesses and residents in southwest London and would give a welcome boost to property values on and around the route"

Jon Riley, Planning Partner and aviation expert at Pinsent Masons added: "Increasing the capacity of surface transport to UK airports is fundamental to improving airport customer experience. Delivering sustainable surface access is also key to our airports' ability to expand, and to land a significant amount of the new growth and jobs needed by UK plc."

The council is now discussing the case for Airtrack-Lite with the Department for Transport.

Source: MJ2 Limited

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