Network Rail is urging residents and businesses to provide their views on plans for a new link connecting the rail network from the west to London Heathrow, ahead of the latest deadline for feedback of Monday 4 April.
The proposed link forms part of Network Rail’s £40bn Railway Upgrade Plan to provide a bigger, better, more reliable railway for passengers. Subject to planning permission, the link includes a 5km tunnel from the Great Western Main Line to Heathrow Terminal 5, enabling passengers throughout the west to travel directly to the airport from Reading, Twyford, Maidenhead and Slough, without the need to change at London Paddington. This will mean faster, more convenient journeys for passengers, with travel times expected to be around 26 minutes from Reading and seven minutes from Slough.
Shorter, more direct journeys to and from London Heathrow will also provide a significant opportunity for businesses across the Thames Valley, M4 corridor, south west and South Wales, enabling these businesses to save time and money, increasing their productivity and helping to deliver economic growth in these regions.
To help develop the plans for the rail link, the project team has carried out extensive consultation with businesses and local communities along the proposed route. The feedback received from the first round of public events will be used to help the project team refine their plans and identify ways in which to minimise disruption during the construction process, should planning permission for the rail link be received.
Mark Langman, Network Rail’s managing director for the Western route, said: “I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to provide us with feedback throughout our consultation events. This will prove to be invaluable in helping us to develop the scheme and look at ways we can minimise disruption, should we receive planning permission.
“While we have further engagement events to come, we are at the point in the project where we have the opportunity to further adapt our plans according to the views of local people, and so I would encourage anyone who has not yet had the chance to comment to do so ahead of 4 April.
“The proposed rail link presents many opportunities for residents and businesses across the Thames Valley, south west and west. It will not only provide millions of passengers with faster journeys, but will also help to relieve congestion at London Paddington and open opportunities for thousands of businesses, enabling them to become more competitive and increasing economic growth.”
Councillor Sohail Munawar, commissioner for social and economic inclusion at Slough Borough Council, said: “The rail link will transform travel to and from Heathrow, delivering a seven minute journey from Slough to the airport.
“Given the numerous personal and economic benefits this will bring Slough residents and businesses and the impact its construction will have in our borough, it is particularly important local people get to have their say.
“I urge people to fill in the questionnaires and make the most of the opportunity to have their say.”
Residents and businesses who would like to comment on the latest plans for the proposed rail link can do so via the project website, by calling 03457 114141, or by filling in one of the consultation leaflets that were distributed at the recent events.
A summary of the feedback received and the project team’s response to this will be available via a public consultation report that will be published on the Planning Inspectorate’s website later this year.