Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text SWINDON NEWS to 80360 or email us
Direct link to airport could be in pipeline
12:00pm Tuesday 8th November 2011 in News
PLANS to link Swindon to Heathrow airport with a new high-speed line are being support by First Great Western.
Commuters could soon be connected to one of the busiest airports in the world if the £500m scheme gets the go ahead having a big impact on the towns economy.
The idea - floated by ministers in September – would connect the Great Western main line to two current platforms at Heathrow’s terminal five.
It would also bring together Crossrail, the new west-to-east London line, and High Speed Two (HS2) to the North in a single transport hub, but nothing has been said publicly.
Today, a report by the all-party transport select committee has urged ministers to set out clearly the costs and benefits of starting HS2 from Heathrow, rather than from London Euston.
It says: "We also recommend that the government makes a clear statement about the status of possible complementary schemes, such as those which would link Heathrow to GWML from the West.
“It is unacceptable for debate on such major decisions to be conducted through a series of nods and winks in the press.”
According to reports in September, the department for transport believes the West link would slash the journey time to Heathrow from Swindon by as much as 30 minutes - and, crucially, could be operational by 2021.
However, under the existing proposals, the HS2 link to Heathrow would not be built until the 2030s, at the same time as the lines north of Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds, in the project’s second phase.
First Great Western is supporting the plans and is calling on businesses and residents in Swindon to get behind the idea to make it happen.
A spokesman said: “We are very supportive, but its tracks are not directly within our responsibility it is down to Network Rail.
“The current line goes within 6km of the busiest airport in the country and currently people have to go into London and back out to get to Heathrow, it doesn’t make sense.
“It would be very good for Swindon in terms of businesses and commuters.
“It does depend on a lot of things but I think you can say it would definitely save twenty minutes off a journey time.
“Most importantly it is down to people telling us it is something they want. At the moment it is Reading who are pushing for it and we want to see businesses in Swindon to push for this and tell us and Network rail that this is what they want.”