New Airtrack plan to connect Heathrow
Published: Friday 28th October 11
Plans for a new direct rail service from south London to Heathrow have been unveiled by Wandsworth Council.
The proposal - which is based on BAA's Airtrack scheme - would provide four trains an hour from Waterloo to Terminal 5 with stops in the borough at Clapham Junction and Putney.
The plans avoid routeing extra trains through level crossings in Mortlake and Egham. This was a key problem with the original scheme which was scrapped by BAA in April.
Now Wandsworth has come up with a new plan - called Airtrack-Lite - that routes two trains an hour from Waterloo 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 new 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.
Leader of Wandsworth Council Ravi Govindia said:
"It's time Heathrow was put at the centre of a genuine local rail network which offered easy access to communities on all sides of the airport. It's the only way to get more traffic off the roads."
The council is now discussing the case for Airtrack-Lite with the Department for Transport as part of the Wandsworth Travel Choices campaign. This new initiative aims to bring smarter, faster and greener transport options to the borough like pay-as-you-go bike hire, car clubs and new rail services.
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And another thing! Think of people going the other way, such as tourists bound for Brighton and the Sussex coast but arriving in Heathrow. Plus there is a fair amount of interchange traffic with passengers flying in to Heathrow, taking a coach down to Gatwick and flying out from there. This infrastructure would enable a direct Heathrow-Gatwick rail service to get these passengers off the road and onto the train. Am pretty sure a Heathrow Airport-Clapham Junction-East Croydon-Gatwick Airport-Brighton line would be extremely popular. Even if it was an hourly service, people would plan ahead and use it.Bob
4 April 2012
Should have been done decades ago. This is not just a local issue but a national issue. The new route will benefit everyone in Surrey, South London and Kent who need to get to Heathrow: these literally millions of people are currently funnelled into insane roundabout routes via Paddington or the Piccadilly Line; this forces many of them to use taxis and buses instead, clogging up roads much more than any level crossing ever would. Additionally, the problem even deters travel customers from using Heathrow and many base their entire holiday or business plan on using Gatwick or City Airport instead. I know people in the South East who prefer to take an indirect flight from Gatwick instead of a direct flight from Heathrow, such is the hassle.Bob
4 April 2012
Why not build a new stretch of track from Terminal 5 using the under-used Colnbrook freight line, and continue it up through/under Uxbridge to meet the Chiltern line east of Denham. Then you have Heathrow to Birmingham, calling at various places on the way.Matt Abbott
6 February 2012
I very clever and well thought out proposal.As stated by others it takes account of previous concerns whilst retaining the key benefits. Clapham Junction is not just a local station it is a key hub for all of S England. Furthermore with the new tube link to 'The Junction' becoming operational next year, the timing could not be better. I hope this gets a speedy approval.Mr P Barker
6 December 2011
Fantastic idea! I was disappointed about the scrapping of the previous scheme but understood how the level crossing issues made the plan unworkable. This new version solves these problems and makes Heathrow properly accessible from the South by rail, a vitally important missing link in the current network.Andrew, Staines
1 November 2011
I fully support any proposal to create a rail link directly from Putney to Heathrow. Currently to go by public transport means a journey almost into the west end and out again, so it is far easier to drive (or take a minicab) than it is to get the train - but if a fast rail link were available I would far prefer to use it as it would be more convenient and cheaper.Caroline
1 November 2011
WAY OVERDUE!!! Trying to drive to Heathrow from Battersea is a nightmare because the M25 is SO unpredictable and all the short cuts you can think of on the way are invariably held up with roadworks. I fully support all new train services from Battersea and Clapham.Gini Chappell
29 October 2011
I fully support any plan to give rail access to Heathrow via Clapham Junction. So many people have easy rail access to Clapham Junction across the whole of SE England, especially South and South-West of London, Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire, that this link is long overdue. This is important for the whole area, not just Wandsworth, so I hope you get support from councils outside of the immediate area served directly.Richard Salmon
28 October 2011