Posted 13th July 2012 | 6 Comments
New rail link included in DfT aviation plans
A NEW RAIL LINK to Heathrow Airport has been included in the Government's latest plans for aviation. The proposed line would use a west-facing connection near Slough, which would allow through trains to serve the airport from south Wales and Bristol if a business case could be established.
Transport secretary Justine Greening said the new rail route, which forms part of a newly published consultative Aviation Policy Framework, would be 'subject to a business case and conclusion of agreements with the aviation industry'.
The Government is making up to £500 million available to build the new line, which Ms Greening said would 'cut typically 30 minutes off the journey to Heathrow from the west of England and south Wales, with significant benefits for growing cities like Swindon, Bristol and Cardiff', and could open in 2021.
The proposal will feature in the forthcoming High Level Output Specification for rail, which is due to be published soon.
Other airport rail links are also being introduced or upgraded. Gatwick Airport station is being enlarged, and by the time a £53 million scheme is completed next year the station will have gained new track, better passenger facilities and an additional platform.
Trams are set to reach Edinburgh Airport in 2014 and Manchester Airport in 2016. Crossrail trains should be running to Heathrow about two years after that. In the longer term, the plans for HS2 also include a spur to Heathrow, which has reached the detailed planning stage.
Other links between rail and air are also being considered. Ms Greening said: "We will invite train companies to explore the potential of ‘code-sharing’ between flights and long-distance train services, to enhance competition between trains and domestic flights."
Although the main aviation consultation will now run until the end of October, more rail details can be expected when HLOS is published. Ms Greening said: "I will shortly publish a rail investment strategy, which will recognise the importance of transport investment to the economy, including improving connectivity between cities and airports."
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