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12 April 2011 | News, Transport

Heathrow Link to Waterloo Plan Abandoned

Heathrow Link to Waterloo Plan Abandoned


BAA have called it quits on their 12-year-old Airtrack proposal and will now investigate alternative rail connections for Heathrow.

Airtrack was a proposed southerly link from Heathrow, designed to go under Terminal 5 (which wasn’t built when the plans started, and where platforms now stand ready) and connect to Reading, Guildford and Waterloo via a new stretch of track from the airport to the existing network at Staines.

The plans ran into trouble as the badly engineered Windsor Lines from Waterloo are already packed with trains and dotted with level crossings, which would have been down for extra traffic-clogging minutes if the scheme had proceeded (uber-geek level info on this here, courtesy of London Reconnections). Early estimates expected 13 million passengers to use the link per year, removing 5,000 car journeys from the M25 and M4 from each rush hour. BAA attempted to ease this problem by funding other congestion improvements, making a £12m deal with Surrey Council last year.

Issues at other sites could not be resolved and government funding for the scheme has been withdrawn so the airport operator has chosen other alternatives to increase rail access to Heathrow. A new Wider Heathrow Integrated Rail Strategy (WHIRS) will be produced to look at integrating Crossrail and HS2 into the airports operations, while retaining the Heathrow Express and seeking alternative links to the South and West.

It’s sad that the links thorough south west London can’t go ahead, they would be hugely useful for a large area of the capital, but understandable local objections kept this one in the holding pattern until the money ran out.

Hopefully the WHIRS will come to something. In the meantime Terminal 5’s two spare platforms stand empty waiting for trains that will never come while traffic pollution keeps on killing. Let's try and not take a dozen years to cancel the next scheme, eh chaps?
bohaynowell

That IS a shame. I live in an area affected by HS2, and although I feel sorry for the people directly impacted, we really need to improve our public transport structure.

Windsorian

I can understand the level crossing problems on the T5-Waterloo, T5-Guildford and T5-Reading lines, but there are no road level crossings on the proposed T5-Staines line.
All that is missing is 4km of new line accross Stanwell & Staines Moors to allow the existing Heathrow Express trains to be extended from T5 to a re-built Staines station.
No level crossing problems, no new train fleet or maintenance depot required, and would cost only about one tenth of the £750M Airtrack proposal.

Yes existing SWT passengers would have to change at Staines on to the HEx, buy capacity on the windsor lones (via Putney) can then be increase by the 10 carriage proposals without excessive down times at the 15 level crossings.

Dmaulder

I just wanted to highlight a couple of points: BAA has the MOST expensive train service in the UK (Heathrow Express). Only offering a service between T5 and Staines was never envisaged precisely because BAA wouldn t be able to charge astronomical fares.

BAA never addressed the concerns about the levels crossings: their latest proposal proves it. Surrey County Council was ready to forget about the interest of local residents for a £11b bribe. Money talks! Network Rail's attitude is the worst: they are the cause of this problem with excessive downtime at the crossings. Local residents and businesses were so against the Airtrack project because they know perfectly well the issues related to these crossings: In response to Doc Martens, we are already sit in our cars in traffic jams waiting for barriers to open, the issue is that buses, and ambulance also wait. Not to mention the impact on local properties: who would dare to buy a property ONLY accessible 15mins. If BAA, Network Rail and SCC came with solutions ealier, Airtrack might not have been cancelled. They are firmly responsible for this chaos and botrched consultation.