Wandsworth Council’s proposal for a new direct rail services between Waterloo and Heathrow has won support from Hounslow and Hammersmith & Fulham Councils.
They are backing the scheme as a key measure to improve surface access to the airport and to ease congestion on the Piccadilly Line.
The service would include stops at Queenstown Road , Clapham Junction, Wandsworth Town and Putney and is based on BAA’s ‘Airtrack’ scheme.
The Wandsworth version – nicknamed ‘Airtrack Lite’ – would provide four trains an hour from Waterloo to Terminal 5. It avoids routing extra trains through level crossings in Mortlake and Egham which was the key problem with the original scheme and led to it being scrapped in April last year.
The proposals have now been discussed at top level meetings with the Department for Transport (DfT) and BAA.
The scheme has now been included in the tender documents for the Great Western Rail Franchise. The next franchisee will be expected to “engage constructively with industry partners in developing these options” as a means of improving links to Heathrow.
Leader of Wandsworth Council Ravi Govindia said: “We’ve made a good start with Airtrack Lite but there is still a lot of work to do behind the scenes building the case.
“What everyone can agree on is that Heathrow needs to be at centre of a genuine local rail network offering easy access to communities on all sides of the airport. Our scheme would provide an alternative to tortuous journeys on the Piccadilly Line and help get more cars off the road.”
Two trains an hour would run between Waterloo and Heathrow 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 scheme would require a new station at Staines and a new stretch of track from there to Terminal 5. The rest of the route would run along existing lines.
Cllr Nick Botterill, H&F Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “We are fully supportive of Wandsworth Council’s proposal for a new rail service between Waterloo and Heathrow. Many Hammersmith & Fulham residents already struggle to find a space, let alone a seat, when the Piccadilly Line trains roll into the borough. This new line would significantly reduce the number of passengers that use the Tube to get to Heathrow and would certainly be good news for local people.”