We have looked at the feasibility of options to improve connectivity to Heathrow Airport from the south
This work formed part of Government’s consideration of airport capacity and surface access in the South East.
Why consider access to Heathrow Airport?
Journeys to and from airports are an important factor in the planning of the future railway. As our System Operator function seeks to make recommendations as to the network’s future operation and enhancement, the requirements of airport passengers form a key consideration.
The airports picture in the UK has been the subject of consideration in recent years, primarily through the work of the Airports Commission led by Sir Howard Davies. As part of the consideration of airport capacity in south east England, the Government remitted us to undertake the Southern Rail Access to Heathrow Feasibility Study to look at the feasibility of a new rail link serving Heathrow Airport from the south. This was in response to one of the recommendations in the Airports Commission’s interim report of December 2013.
Existing connectivity to Heathrow Airport from the south is currently poor, with most people choosing to drive or get a taxi. A new direct rail connection would encourage modal shift from road to a safer and more sustainable rail network, decongesting the roads and reducing the environmental impact of journeys to and from the airport.
Passengers would benefit from more journey opportunities, with both airport users and employees benefiting from improved connections and reduced journey times.
The aim of the Study was to inform Government of the potential market, train service options and infrastructure options for a rail link to Heathrow Airport from the south. Options were developed and subsequently assessed for feasibility and value-for-money. This was to enable potential funders to decide as to whether further development work should be undertaken on the scheme.
A Southern Rail Link to Heathrow remains part of the Government’s long term aspiration for the railway, but the scheme is still at an early conceptual stage in its development and further work needs to be undertaken before committing to a single solution or scheme.
To harness new and innovative ideas for the development of a scheme, the Government has launched a market sounding process for a Southern Rail Link to Heathrow from May 2018. This process will help inform Government of the size, scale and scope of the potential market participation in the development of a Southern Rail Link to Heathrow, which will inform the required work before any decisions on the scheme are taken.