Heathrow - better local links not high speed hub
Published: Thursday 22nd July 10
The council has welcomed a new report which calls for better and more integrated local rail connections at Heathrow but has repeated its concerns about the impact of a direct high speed link.<br />
Lord Mawhinney's review of high speed rail access to Heathrow adds its support to the council's campaign for improved local links but goes on to recommend that a high speed loop should be built to the airport once the proposed national network had been extended to the North and Scotland.
Wandsworth is a member of the 2M Group which unveiled its own plans for a 'compass point' network of local rail connections around Heathrow in January 2009.
Council leader Edward Lister said today that he was concerned that there had been no national debate on the broader objectives for a national high speed rail network:
" A national network is clearly key to the Government's aims of reducing carbon emissions and encouraging rail alternatives to domestic flights. The problem is we have no idea of whether the current favoured option of a route through the Chilterns to Birmingham is the best way of achieving this.
" A properly structured national high speed network which serves as many major centres of population as possible is essential. High speed rail won't be enough by itself to get people out of planes or off the roads if it does not serve the right towns and cities or leads to reduced services on existing main lines.
" Lord Mawhinney is right to identify the high cost of a direct link to Heathrow when the business case is so poor and we support his recommendation to the Transport Secretary that further work be done on the extension of the national network to Scotland. This must be the opportunity to look properly at the value for money, connectivity and carbon emissions impact of all the alternative routeings."
Lord Mawhinney's report was based on the Chilterns alignment proposed by the HS2 company which was set up by the previous government. He concludes that diverting the high speed route through west London via Heathrow would add £ 2bn to the costs and not represent value for money. He argues that once the network was extended beyond Birmingham the case for a link to the airport might become more viable.
The review was commissioned by the previous transport secretary and confirmed by the new coalition government.
The report High Speed Rail Access to Heathrow is available at www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/rail/pi/highspeedrail
The 2M Group is an alliance of local authorities concerned about the environmental impact of Heathrow operations on their communities.
The group, which took its name from the 2 million residents of the original 12 authorities, now represents a combined population of 5 million people.
You can view the 2M plan 'Getting to Heathrow' at www.2MGroup.org.uk