Network Rail has announced plans for a preferred new rail route linking the Great Western Main Line with London Heathrow, the UK’s only hub airport; a move that is intended to benefit passengers and businesses from the Thames Valley to the West Country and Wales.
Presently, the Great Western Main Line runs from Swansea, through Cardiff, before heading to Reading and London Paddington. Under the new plans, rail passengers travelling from the west of Reading will not need to double-back on the tracks via Paddington.
With the proposed link, passengers in Cardiff and Swansea will be able to cut their travel times to Heathrow by up to 45 minutes and 53 minutes respectively, whilst those in Reading may save 27 minutes.
Besides making travel abroad easier for passengers, the plan will also be a potential boost to the economy in the Thames Valley, the M4 corridor, South West England and south Wales, the airport said.
It is claimed that the link will allow businesses to connect directly with Heathrow, and then with the rest of the world, opening up new opportunities for trade. As the UK’s only hub airport, Heathrow combines direct and transfer passengers to support 78 percent of all UK long-haul flights. The improved access offered by the Western Rail link will mean faster, more convenient connections to those markets within another seven years.
Colin Matthews, Heathrow’s chief executive, said: ‘Network Rail’s plans will drive economic growth through improved access to overseas markets. Heathrow is already in a better location than any other UK airport. Western Rail access will build on that strength, helping to make sure that the whole of the UK benefits from the growth opportunities global connectivity brings.’