Chiswick Rail Link to Heathrow Gets Further Boost

Hounslow Council back the move for a rail-link to Terminal 5


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A move to introduce a half hourly direct train service between Chiswick and Heathrow airport has moved one step closer to fruition as local Councils back the scheme.

Hounslow Council, along with Hammersmith and Fulham Council have add their backing to the plan put forward by Wandsworth Council, and known as Airtrack-Lite. The original plans were amended after it was decided that routing extra trains through level crossings in Mortlake and Egham would be problematic

The current plan routes two trains an hour from Waterloo via the Hounslow Loop which serves Chiswick and Kew Bridge. Two existing services on the Waterloo-Windsor line would split at Staines to provide a further direct link to Terminal Five.

Two services an hour would also come up from Weybridge to Heathrow - again without adding extra frequencies over level crossings at Egham. The new scheme would require a new station at Staines and a new stretch of track from there to Terminal 5. The rest of the route would run along existing lines.

Hounslow and Hammersmith & Fulham Councils are backing the scheme as a key measure to improve surface access to the airport and to ease congestion on the Piccadilly Line.

Heathrow is one of Europe's busiest airports but is served only by the Heathrow Express to Paddington and by the Piccadilly Line which currently does not stop at Chiswick except early in the morning and late at night.

The proposals have now been discussed by Wandsworth Council at top level meetings with the Department for Transport (DfT) and BAA. The scheme has now been included in the tender documents for the Great Western Rail Franchise. The next franchisee will be expected to help develop the proposal further as a means of improving links to Heathrow.

An extract from the tender documents reads: “Options for longer term enhancements of rail links to Heathrow, such as Western Access and Airtrack Lite, are being considered and the franchise operator will be expected to engage constructively with industry partners in developing these options. The franchise operator may have the opportunity to tender for the operation of such services in due course.”

The leader of Wandsworth Council Ravi Govindia said: “We’ve made a good start with Airtrack Lite but there is still a lot of work to do behind the scenes building the case. What everyone can agree on is that Heathrow needs to be at centre of a genuine local rail network offering easy access to communities on all sides of the airport. Our scheme would provide an alternative to tortuous journeys on the Piccadilly Line and help get more cars off the road.

“Airtrack Lite was devised as part of ‘Wandsworth Travel Choices’ . This is a campaign to make the borough a better connected place with a broader range of transport services. One of the key aims is to reduce people’s reliance on cars by making alternative travel choices more appealing and convenient.”

Map of Proposed Route

May 17, 2012