Network Rail has recently conducted a Southern Rail Access to Heathrow Feasibility Study to assess the viability of a new rail line serving Heathrow Airport from the South as part of the rail industry’s Long-Term Planning Process.
Network Rail have stated that “the purpose of this study is to inform Government of the potential market, train service and infrastructure options for a connection to Heathrow Airport from the south. Options have been developed and subsequently assessed for feasibility and value-for-money. This is to enable potential funders to decide whether further development work should be undertaken on the proposal”.
Some of the options detailed in the study suggest ideas for new infrastructure and services around Egham, exploring in part the feasibility of potential solutions to the level crossings issue in this area.
The nature of the proposals explored in this study are strikingly similar to that of the Heathrow Airtrack project, a proposed railway link from Heathrow Terminal 5 into central London and across the suburbs of South-West London. This project would have provided direct rail services from Heathrow to London Waterloo, Reading and Guildford, involving a large area of our constituency, but was abandoned in 2011 due to local opposition and the high costs of mitigations.
I have raised my concerns to Network Rail about the resemblance of the options detailed in the study to the controversial and ill-fated Airtrack project and emphasised my continuing view that, with any future project, there must be a means of creating a permanent solution to the problem of excessive barrier down-time at the level crossings in the Egham area – one that takes into account traffic, the effect on commuters and the local business community, flood risk associated with tunnelling and the environmental impact on the area.
I remain committed to working with BAA, Surrey Country Council, Runnymede Borough Council, Network Rail and many others to look at all potential options to find a viable solution to this ongoing local issue, as I have done so in the past, and will keep updated on any developments resulting from this study.
The full study can be found on the Network Rail website by following this link: http://www.networkrail.co.uk/Southern-Rail-Access-to-Heathrow-Feasibility-Study/.
For further details about the nature of this study, the ‘Southern Rail Access to Heathrow: Terms of Reference for Study’ document can be found on the Department for Transport’s website.