I recently met with Rail Minister, Andrew Jones MP with Richard Benyon MP for Newbury (Conservative) in Parliament to discuss the work of the All Party Parliamentary Group for a Western Rail Link to Heathrow (WRLtH).
The WRLtH proposal consists of 6.5km rail link between Slough and London Heathrow Airport. This connection would reduce journey times for passengers travelling to Heathrow from the South Coast, South West, Wales and West Midlands as there would be no need for them to travel through to London Paddington.
This move would also reduce congestion on some of the busiest motorways and roads and cut emissions dramatically. The train journey to Heathrow from Slough would be reduced from 52 minutes to 6 minutes, Reading from 68 minutes to 26 minutes and Maidenhead from 59 minutes to 14 minutes: CO2 could be reduced by 30 million road miles travelled annually.
Further, as 70% of foreign-owned businesses establishing in the UK locate within 60 minutes travelling time of Heathrow, more efficient access would encourage even more investment to a wider range of areas. Therefore, it is estimated that the WRLtH could increase economic activity nationally by £800 million.
I would like to thank the Minister for listening to us. This project has almost unanimous support from Councils, MPs, LEPs and Chambers of Commerce. As long as the concerns of local Langley and Iver residents are addressed, this is a no-brainer. It relieves motorway congestion and speeds up journey times. It has a predicted benefit of £800 million in additional economic activity. It is a national strategic issue regardless of whether or not Heathrow expansion goes ahead. We must do all we can to deliver this project in a timely manner.
Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury and Co-Chair of the APPG noted that “the business case for this project is without question. There is a pressing case to ensure that this is delivered swiftly. At the moment it looks like delivery will not be achieved until 2027. That is far too distant. I am really glad that the Minister listened to our concerns and will try to help deliver the project earlier.”
Andrew Jones MP, Under Secretary of State at the Department of Transport with responsibility for Rail, said:
“This is a key strategic priority for the Government in terms of rail infrastructure. We recognise the strong benefits this would deliver, including cuts to CO2 emissions and freeing up capacity at Paddington Station. It helps our objective to deliver good connectivity. I will convene a meeting with DfT officials to discuss the schedule for the scheme to see if there is any way we can challenge the pace of delivery.”