Network Rail has confirmed there is a strong case for a new southern rail access link to Heathrow, which would connect passengers to the airport from Waterloo Station and destinations further south.
While the study does not specify the final route southern rail access would take, it makes it clear there is a demand for improved rail access to the airport from the south, whether or not Heathrow expands, and there are feasible solutions to explore further.
Welcoming Network Rail’s findings, Chris Joyce, Head of Surface Access at Heathrow said: “A new rail link connecting Heathrow to south London and Surrey is a huge opportunity to connect an additional 4.8 million passengers to Heathrow, and allow us to treble our rail capacity by 2040. This is great news for passengers who will have even more public transport options to and from the airport. It’s also really good news for Heathrow’s neighbours as it will minimise road traffic in the area.
“Southern rail access in addition to Crossrail, Western Rail Link, HS2 via Old Oak Common and an upgraded Piccadilly Line service will place Heathrow at the heart of an integrated rail system, and build on the airport’s strength as the UK’s best connected transport hub.”
Heathrow has a surface access strategy that is focussed on getting passengers and airport colleagues onto sustainable transport modes such as rail, bus, coach and cycles. The airport already hosts the world’s largest single site car share scheme, the busiest bus and coach station in the UK and has the UK’s first publicly accessible hydrogen refuelling site. These efforts have, say the airport, contributed to maintaining airport related road traffic at broadly static levels over the last 25 years, despite passenger numbers increasing by almost 80%.
Network Rail will now seek to conduct a “GRIP 1-2” study which would include on-site surveys, a holistic study of the airport area and maintenance, amongst other considerations.