New plans for a link for Heathrow to the proposed high speed rail network are reported, as LB Hillingdon says better benefits can be realised from upgrading the existing lines.
The Sunday Times has reported that Philip Hammond, the transport secretary, is drawing up plans for a new way of linking Heathrow to the national rail network, and the proposed HS2 London- Brimingham link. The new plans would also link the airport to the west of England and Wales.
Under the plans, a new “hub” station at Heathrow would link Crossrail, HS2, and the Great Western Main Line together. A spur would link from the airport to the Great Western Line, providing a four-times-hourly shuttle link to Reading, and direct links to Bristol and Cardiff.
This contrasts with previous HS2 plans, which featured a spur to Heathrow, or an interchange with Crossrail at Old Oak, and places an HS2 link directly at the airport.
The HS2 link to Heathrow would not be built until the 2030s, at the same time as the high speed lines north of Birmingham in the project’s second phase.
Meanwhile, LB Hillingdon has siad the it believes the New Chiltern Mainline service shows that improving the existing rail network is the right approach, rather than building HS2 at all.
The new Chiltern Mainline service introduced on 5 September is cutting the journey time from Birmingham to London to just 90 minutes making it comparable with West Coast Mainline services from Euston to Birmingham, says the council. The 51m group of local authorities opposing HS2 has welcomed the introduction of the new service that it thinks demonstrates what can be achieved by improvement the existing network.
Councillor Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council, which is a leading member of the 51m group said, “The Mainline scheme powerfully makes the case that there are alternatives to High Speed 2 and spending £32 billion represents very poor value for money. We and other members of the 51m Group have said all along that there are alternatives that can be brought in well before 2026, the earliest date HS2 is due to be completed, and at significantly less cost.”
“We believe that by taking a similar approach to improving the West Coast Main Line, capacity to meet the predicted demand over the next 30 years can be achieved on an incremental basis as and when required. In comparison HS2 will not provide any capacity increases to Birmingham until 2026 and Manchester and Leeds until 2033.”
The faster journey times are made possible by a £250 million investment to upgrade the rail route from Moor Street station in the heart of Birmingham to Marylebone station in central London. Birmingham’s Moor Street Station has recently been redeveloped through a £25m renovation adjacent to the Bullring shopping centre.