Private companies have been asked to come forward with ideas to deliver a new southern rail link to Heathrow Airport as part of a ‘call for ideas’ by the Government.
The Government hopes the link will be one of the first projects to be brought forward by organisations like local authorities or private sector companies. The idea is to increase the investment in the rail network, above that which government is prepared to contribute.
A call for ideas on “market-led proposals to enhance the nation’s railways” has been launched by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. Government says there are already a number of consortia looking to construct the southern link to Heathrow.
One such is Heathrow Southern Railway, whose Executive Director Graham Cross has previously said: “The Secretary of State’s remarks recognise the importance of southern rail access to the future of Heathrow and the contribution private investment can make to its early construction. This new railway is needed even with the existing two-runway Airport but, if expansion is approved, Heathrow Southern Railway could be open before the additional North West Runway bringing immediate mitigation to road congestion and air quality.”
Mr Grayling said: “We are investing in the most significant modernisation of the UK rail network since Victorian times, and I want the knowledge and expertise of investors and local partners to contribute to delivering new connections, more services and better journeys for passengers.
“This has already proved effective on a number of roads schemes in the UK. By encouraging innovative ideas and new investment on our railways, we can relieve the burden on taxpayers and fare payers with projects that match our transport needs. This can also support our economic and housing aspirations to ensure everyone benefits from an enhanced rail network.
“Heathrow is a perfect example of where this can make a real difference. Such schemes will help ensure the benefits of our major international hub are even more accessible to those across the west and south of the UK, providing vital links for travellers and exporters and attracting inward investment.”
The Department of Transport says it is also continuing to work on developing plans for a western rail access to Heathrow.