1. Welcome and Introduction
Chair: Val Shawcross
The Chair welcomed everyone and provided an update on HATF work for 2022 and introduced rail access as the theme for the Wider Forum. She noted that it was unfortunate that DfT were unable to attend.
The Chair introduced Councillor Rajawat and thanked him for hosting the event. The Councillor noted the importance of building back better following Covid-19, the importance of Heathrow as an employer to the borough and how a new rail link to the South of the airport could benefit Hounslow.
2. Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) Update and Surface Access Strategy
Speaker: Sophie Chapman (HAL)
SC provided an update and summary on the Surface Access. The following points were raised:
- Publication of Heathrow 2.0 and Net Zero Plan in February 2022. Heathrow SurfaceAccess Strategy was published in August 2022 which provided 4 Surface Access targets, SC went through the interventions to meet these targets for colleagues, passengers and freight.
- Delivery of Southern Rail and Western Rail Access to Heathrow remain priorities for H7 and beyond.
3. Southern Rail Access to Heathrow (SATH)
Speakers: Paul Millin (HSPG) and Stephen Bennett (Arup)
Provided details on HSPG position on SATH, benefits on implementation including economic, increase in public transport sustainable mode share. Slides provide further details
HSPG Position Paper on SATH provides further information including evidence base and proposed process to deliver scheme: www.heathrowstrategicplanninggroup.com/resources/transport
Speaker: Patrick Deane (Heathrow Southern Rail)
Key points from presentation including:
- Background to HSR including alternative route alignments studied which led to theselection of the preferred alignment
- Tunnelled sections provided into Terminal 5, connections with existing SW networkthrough Staines, with routes into Waterloo/Clapham Junction/Hounslow andGuildford/Woking and options beyond that.
- He highlighted compatibility with Western Rail Access to Heathrow
- Privately financed, potentially as a ‘category 1 market-led proposal’ – i.e. completelyoff balance sheet.
- Discussed what makes HSR viable: high demand, faster journey than road, reducedroad emission – improve air quality, attractive to non-airport users
Speaker: Heather Morgan (Spelthorne BC)
Southern Light Rail (SLR), which utilises the same light rail technology currently present in other locations globally. Key points from presentation including:
- This is a viable alternative to heavy rail, which provides benefits for Staines
- Stated benefits such as capacity of 14 million passengers, frequency of up to every 6mins from Staines to Heathrow, minimal footprint – due to no heavy tunnelling, no impact on Staines SSSI, reliability, could be fully privately funded
Speaker: Robert Heslop (LB Hounslow)
Stated benefits of new rail link, with key points from presentation including:
- Heathrow Opportunity Area in Bedfont provides many more new homes and jobs
- Delivery of Southern Rail on this alignment, inclusive of a station at Bedfont wouldlead to improved PTAL, reduce car reliance, and support development
- Proposal provides a new link west of Staines to T5 and will link key areas such asWeybridge, Woking and Guildford
- Recognises benefits will be unlocked when part of an integrated solution, such as withactive travel and improved bus routes
Chair: Val Shawcross
Speakers: Robert Heslop (LB Hounslow), Patrick Deane (Heathrow Southern Rail), Heather Morgan (Spelthorne BC), Seema Malhotra MP, Tim Leech (HAL)
Tim Leech – Noted that Heathrow is supportive of the concept of Southern Rail Access and will be looking for consensus from local stakeholders to enable Heathrow to support a particular scheme. Looking for benefits to communities and connectivity and proof that any scheme is deliverable.
Seema Malhotra MP – Noted that we should make it easy for DfT by coming to a consensus. She placed importance on cross-party support, and she has personally spoken to Surrey colleagues. She noted that she believes heavy rail is the solution, and is keen to hold another debate in Parliament on this in the new year. She also suggested working with the established All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for South Western Railway to explore this further.
Ruth Cadbury MP – Broadly agrees with the proposals and supports the idea, especially given no government money is required. Raised possibility of utilising new Railair bus routes from Feltham to fill short-term gap in connectivity until heavy rail becomes possible.
4. Western Railway Link to Heathrow (WRLtH)
Speaker: Jo Grew (Network Rail)
- JG set out the current status of the project, which is that the team was de-mobilised after completion of all outstanding work, following the inability to complete the funding agreement once the Expansion Judicial Review decision and Covid-19 put the project on hold.
- Outlined the need for improved rail connectivity to Heathrow, particularly to the West
- Potential tunnelled route – 6.5km from Langley will allow trains to connect at T5 andCTA with stops at four stations between Reading and Heathrow.
- 2018 statutory consultation revealed overwhelming support for the rail link fromstakeholders
- She provided expected journey times compared with existing, though noted these willhave changed since the introduction of the Elizabeth Line
- She noted that the Environmental Statement and timetable modelling would have tobe revisited post-Elizabeth line, and that this would take 18 months of planning before submitting to the DCO. The DCO process would then be around 16 months.
Speaker: Ruth Bagley (Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce)
- Provided the benefits and need for the WRLtH – with benefits being experienced far wider than just the local area surrounding Heathrow including in areas such as Oxford, South Wales and the wider South West
- Will economically support recovery, growth, business investment in the Thames Valley and beyond
- Offers wider benefits including additional rail resilience and passenger choice
Chair: Val Shawcross
Speakers: Jo Grew (Network Rail), Ruth Bagley (TVCC), Tim Leech (HAL)
Ruth Bagley – TVCC will try to keep momentum behind the project in absence of government support and are looking at alternative ways that this could be delivered
Tim Leech – HAL remain supportive of WRLtH and sees the connectivity benefits that the scheme would bring for areas west of Heathrow. HAL also believe that both schemes are compatible with each other. It was always planned that the schemes would provide active provision for each other.