A proposed new direct rail link from the West to Heathrow will improve journeys to Britain’s busiest airport and help increase economic productivity in the Thames Valley.


As part of our Railway Upgrade Plan the Department for Transport asked us to develop plans to build a new 6.5km rail link between the Great Western Main Line and London Heathrow Airport. The proposed rail connection would speed up journeys to Britain’s busiest international airport, by allowing passengers to travel to the airport from the South Coast, South West, South Wales and West Midlands without going into London Paddington.

The Western Rail Link to Heathrow would leave the Main Line between Langley and Iver. It would then descend underneath the main railway line into a cutting before entering a 5km tunnel. The tunnel would pass under Richings Park and Colnbrook and then merge with existing rail lines underground at Heathrow Terminal 5.

What are the benefits?

The proposed rail link would:

  • Reduce rail journey times between Reading and Heathrow by delivering a new, faster, frequent, more reliable direct train service to Heathrow with four trains per hour in each direction. All trains would call at Reading and Slough and alternate trains at Twyford and Maidenhead. Journey times could be as short as 26 minutes from Reading and 6 to 7 minutes from Slough.
  • Significantly improve rail connectivity to Heathrow from the Thames Valley, South Coast, South West, South Wales and West Midlands.
  • Provide an alternative form of transport for passengers and the large number of people who work at the airport who are currently travelling by road.
  • Ease congestion on roads, including the M4, M3 and M25 resulting in lower CO2 emissions equivalent to approximately 30 million road miles per year.
  • Generate economic growth and new jobs across the Thames Valley and surrounding areas.
  • Reduce passenger congestion at London Paddington.

Public consultation and next steps

We listened carefully to your feedback during our informal consultations in 2015 and 2016 before drawing up more detailed designs.

From 11 May – 22 June 2018 we undertook a final round of statutory public consultation, including 18 community events in and around the local area to enable local people to find out more about our detailed proposals, ask questions and express their views. We are grateful to everyone that took the time to take part in this consultation.

View details and documentation from the public consultation

Consultation update December 2018 (PDF)

All responses have been analysed and we will be holding public information events in early 2020. Originally scheduled for November 2019, these events have been postponed until after the general election.

A Development Consent Order application will subsequently be finalised and submitted to the Planning Inspectorate. This will seek the required consent to build the new railway in line with the plans that have been developed, with a final decision by the Secretary of State for Transport.

If you have any questions about the plans, you can send us an email at: westernraillinktoheathrow@networkrail.co.uk or contact our 24-hr national helpline on 03457 11 41 41.