Breaking: Route unveiled for Western Rail Access to Heathrow (WRAtH) project

Published: 5 Feb 2014 11:358 comments

ROUTES to connect Heathrow Airport to the Great Western Mainline as part of the Western Rail Access to Heathrow (WRAtH) project have been unveiled today.

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Network rail has whittled down four main options for rail access to the airport to one – which splits from the mainline at Langley, east of Slough, and travels direct to Terminal 5.

A route from the mainline at Langley to Heathrow T5 was originally proposed by Slough Borough Council and Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) six years ago and included as part of the government’s 2012 list of rail projects to be delivered – which released £500million of funding.

The new line will slash journey times to Heathrow from the Thames Valley, the west of England and South Wales. Journey times from Slough will be just six minutes and from Reading just 28 minutes. Improvements to journeys would also be seen as far west as Cardiff, Swansea, Exeter and Plymouth.

Ruth Bagley, Thames Valley Berkshire LEP lead for WRAtH, said: “This is excellent news for Slough, the sub region and the country as a whole.

“Heathrow is the engine driving the economy of Thames Valley Berkshire and all points west but for too long, businesses have had to rely on the road network to access the airport.

“Now the route has been confirmed as connecting the mainline east of Slough, businesses will be able to access their international markets faster and more reliably than ever.”

The line, as laid out by Network Rail, would leave the mainline, east of Langley Station and go by tunnel all the way to T5 – bringing minimum disruption to residents.

David Sleath, Chief Executive Officer of SEGRO, a leading industrial property owner in London’s Western corridor, said: “The Thames Valley’s excellent transport links, and close proximity to Heathrow make it a great place to do business, and one of the most prosperous regions in Europe. Western rail access will ensure that this continues to be the case by providing fast and reliable access, connecting businesses with global markets.

“It also enables far greater access to Heathrow from Birmingham and the West Country underpinning the Thames Valley’s competitive advantage over alternative airport regions around the world, contributing to sustainable long term economic growth in the UK. The business community will welcome this exciting development, and the commitment to excellent infrastructure at the UK’s hub airport.

The WRAtH project is expected to generate more than £2billion in economic benefits to the UK as well as 40,000 new jobs.

It is predicted to deliver:

· one million fewer car journeys on some of the most congested roads in the UK

· up to a 70 percent reduction in journey times for more than 12 million passengers

· 5,100 tonnes less CO2 every year

· £1.5billion worth of journey time savings

· £800million of additional economic investment

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