Two Thames Valley groups have thrown their weight behind the campaign to build a western rail link from the region to Heathrow Airport.
Thames Valley Berkshire LEP and Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce argue that the link would seriously reduce congestion and pollution on roads in the region.
New data from transport consumer group London TravelWatch shows that more people now either drive or get a taxi to catch a flight from Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton airports. London TravelWatch argues that the public transport links to these airports are “not good enough” to cater for the current or future demand of air travel.
Tim Smith, chief executive of Thames Valley Berkshire LEP, said: “Thames Valley Berkshire LEP’s infrastructure priority for the Berkshire area is a new 6.5km rail link between the Great Western Main Line and London Heathrow Airport. The Western Rail Link to Heathrow (WRLtH) would speed up journeys and remove cars on the road to Britain’s busiest international airport.
“It is designed to alleviate car travel and dramatically reduce rail journey times from the west; the approximate journey time from Reading to Heathrow will be 26 minutes.
“There would be up to one million fewer car journeys if the project goes ahead, saving 30 million road miles of harmful emissions in the first year alone. The project will also provide much needed congestion relief for the M4, M25 and M3. 55% of journeys on the proposed service will be extracted from the road, hence dramatically reducing the level of pollution emitted from car travel.”
The proposed connection would allow passengers to travel to Heathrow from the South Coast, South West, South Wales and West Midlands, without going into London Paddington. The link would leave the Great Western Main Line between Langley and Iver; it would then descend underneath the main line into a cutting before entering a 5 km tunnel; the tunnel would pass under Richings Park and Colnbrook and then merge with existing rail lines underground at Heathrow Terminal 5.
Paul Britton, CEO of Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce, commented: “The data released from London TravelWatch reflects the views of our members that the delivery of Western Rail Link will significantly reduce congestion and pollution from major roads including the M4 and help sustain our regions competitiveness.
“We are continually encouraging MPs, local politicians, business colleagues and the wider community about the benefits that WRLtH will bring to an estimated 14 million people and businesses. Increasing attractiveness to existing companies and potential investors, bringing Oxford and Swindon within the ‘golden hour’, and reducing travel time by an expected 30 minutes from the South West and Midlands to Heathrow will be a major boost for the region.”