Support builds for new Heathrow rail route
Published: Monday 14th May 12
Wandsworth Council’s proposal for a new direct rail services between Waterloo and Heathrow has won support from more London boroughs.
Hounslow and Hammersmith & Fulham Councils 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 Vauxhall, Clapham Junction and Putney.
Wandsworth unveiled the rail proposal in October last year which is based on BAA's 'Airtack' scheme.
The new version - renamed '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 help develop the proposal further as a means of improving links to Heathrow.
An extract from the tender documents reads:
"Options for longer term enhancements of rail links to Heathrow, such as Western Access and Airtrack Lite, are being considered and the franchise operator will be expected to engage constructively with industry partners in developing these options. The franchise operator may have the opportunity to tender for the operation of such services in due course."
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.
"Airtrack Lite was devised as part of 'Wandsworth Travel Choices' - an ambitious campaign to make our borough a better connected place with a broader range of transport services. One of the key aims is to reduce people's reliance on cars by making alternative travel choices more appealing and convenient."
Airtrack Lite would provide four trains an hour from Waterloo to Terminal 5.
The plans avoid routing extra trains through level crossings in Mortlake and Egham. This was a key problem with the original scheme and led to it being scrapped by BAA in April last year.
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 here to Terminal 5. The rest of the route would run along existing lines.
Heathrow is one of Europe 's busiest airports but is served only by the Heathrow Express to Paddington and by the Piccadilly Line. This forces Wandsworth residents to travel north through London to join a Heathrow bound service rather than travelling direct.
For more information on the council's campaign to improve the local transport network visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/travelchoices