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Improving rail links to Heathrow- What they say

A new direct rail link connecting the west to Heathrow will improve passenger journeys to the UK’s busiest airport and help to increase economic productivity across the Thames Valley.

We are developing plans for a new rail tunnel leaving the Great Western main line between Langley and Iver to London Heathrow, allowing passengers to travel to the airport from Reading via Slough without going into Paddington station.

The investment will help to:
For passengers:
  • Reduce journey times via rail between Reading and Heathrow Airport
  • Provide direct trains between Reading and Heathrow
  • Improve access to Heathrow from the South coast, South West, South Wales and West Midlands
  • Reduce congestion at Paddington station
Wider benefits
  • Provide over £800 million worth of UK economic activity, including additional economic benefits to for the region
  • Create potential for 42,000 new jobs
  • Make CO2 savings equating to 1 million road passenger journeys
  • Give 20% of the UK population access to Heathrow via one interchange
  • Help to provide much need congestion relief for the M4, M25 and M3 motorways
The Plans
This direct rail link will allow passengers throughout the west to travel to the airport from Reading via Slough without having to change at Paddington station.
This will make journeys faster, improve access to Heathrow and provide significant economic benefits for the growing number of businesses in the Thames Valley region and beyond.

We’re planning to build a tunnel (comprised of two smaller tunnels) approximately 5km long, connecting with the Great Western main line at a new junction between Langley and Iver stations.

The new line would travel above ground for approximately 250 metres before entering the tunnel, which would connect to existing platforms at Heathrow Terminal 5. At its shallowest the tunnel could be approximately 10m below ground and at its deepest around 30m, with a diameter in the region of 6-7m.



The scheme is expected to take around four years to complete. Construction compounds will be necessary and once tunnelling work begins, working hours are expected to be a 24-hour operation.To build the tunnel, a significant amount of earth will need to be removed from the site. We’re currently exploring the best ways to do this by rail and road.

Keeping road and rail moving
During construction we may need to alter the local road network, particularly at Hollow Hill Lane where the new rail link will leave the existing railway. Station facilities such as car parking may also need to be reviewed to accommodate the potential increase in passenger numbers. We are currently talking to the local authorities about these matters.
There may be times when sections of the railway are closed to allow safe working. Where closures are required we’ll work with the train operators to keep passengers informed and where possible provide alternative means of transport. Further information on road and rail impacts will be available at the next phase of consultation.


At Network Rail, we work hard to reduce our impact on the environment and put rail at the heart of a low carbon economy. A full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will be carried out before the plans are finalised.
Topics we will look at will include (amongst others):
• Surface Water and Flood Risk
• Hydrogeology
• Contaminated Land
• Waste and Spoil Disposal
• Traffic and Transport
• Noise and Vibration
• Socio Economic Effects

Have your say

The first phase of public consultation closed on 1 April 2015, thank you for all of your feedback.

We will now analyse all the comments we have received ahead of a second phase of consultation later in the year.
In the meantime if you have any further comments or questions about the plans, you can send us an email at: westernheathrowlink@networkrail.co.uk

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