BAA ditches Heathrow to Waterloo rail link

First published in News by

Richmond residents will breathe a sigh of relief after BAA's announcement it has ditched plans to build a new super-speed rail link through the borough.

The company confirmed yesterday it was shelving plans for a controversial rail link, which would have cut through the borough in order to connect Heathrow's Terminal 5 to locations including Reading and Guildford.

Councillor Clare Head, Richmond Council’s cabinet member for traffic, said: "Without more investment than BAA was prepared to make, the new fast train network to Waterloo would have lowered the level crossing barriers that already divide our communities for unacceptably longer periods.

"Adding more trains without any signalling remedy would have led to more delays at these crossings, which was unacceptable in our view. Already at some times of day the barriers are more down than up.

“Our position always was that if BAA would resolve the issue of the barriers being down for longer, we would support Airtrack in principle. Unfortunately, no investment has been forthcoming.

"Improving public transport to and from Heathrow and improving high-speed rail links are crucial issues, but changes should not come about at the expense of local people trying to go about their daily lives.”

Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith also welcomed the news.

Mr Goldsmith said: “Although like most people, I support improvements to public transport, BAA's proposed 'Airtrack' scheme would have caused mayhem locally, increasing waiting times at our level crossings by up to 5 minutes in the hour as well as physically dividing our community.”

BAA's announcment yesterday followed a public consultation which saw residents raise objections regarding issues such as the increased amount of barrier downtime the move would cause at station crossings like Mortlake and North Sheen and Barnes.

But it is believed BAA's lack of funds for the £675m project were also key to the decision to cancel Airtrack plans.

Heathrow’s surface access director Allan Gregory said they had listened to the concerns raised by local residents about the impact of Airtrack and worked hard to try and resolve issues including level crossings.

He said: "Despite our considerable efforts, including discussions with Network Rail and the local highway authorities, we have been unable to develop solutions which fully address these concerns.

“The project has also been affected by the comprehensive spending review and the likelihood that there will be no public sector funding support forthcoming for the project.

"We have considered alternative scheme options and how these might be funded but in the absence of securing additional funding in the current economic climate, Heathrow Airport is unable to justify meeting the full cost of the project and unfortunately we have no option but to withdraw Airtrack’s Transport and Works Act Order application."

He added improving rail services to Heathrow remained a key objective and they looked forward to working with the Department for Transport, Network Rail and others to realise their vision.

Comments (4)

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9:38am Wed 13 Apr 11

Twickenham Bob says...

This is terrible news for many unemployed people in the borough. A direct link to the airport would have meant access to the thousands of jobs at the airport.
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It would also help to solve the chronic congestion that grips South West London as the car is only viable method of getting to the airport due to the lack of direct links.
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It’s a real shame that there are people in this world who want to stop transport improvements as they live in a delusional world and see Richmond as a ‘Village’ when it’s in fact part of the one of the largest cities in Europe.
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Richmond has lost its’ Cross Rail link due to Tony Arbours campaign, and now we have lost Air Track due to Zac Goldsmiths campaign. I’m sure History will judge both of them as ‘the guilty men’ who held back prosperity and made the lives of ordinary people a lot worse.
This is terrible news for many unemployed people in the borough. A direct link to the airport would have meant access to the thousands of jobs at the airport. . It would also help to solve the chronic congestion that grips South West London as the car is only viable method of getting to the airport due to the lack of direct links. . It’s a real shame that there are people in this world who want to stop transport improvements as they live in a delusional world and see Richmond as a ‘Village’ when it’s in fact part of the one of the largest cities in Europe. . Richmond has lost its’ Cross Rail link due to Tony Arbours campaign, and now we have lost Air Track due to Zac Goldsmiths campaign. I’m sure History will judge both of them as ‘the guilty men’ who held back prosperity and made the lives of ordinary people a lot worse. Twickenham Bob
  • Score: 0

3:59pm Wed 13 Apr 11

ChazSheen says...

Bob,
Airtrack would have brought gridlock to the level crossings in Mortlake and Sheen, but Richmond wasn't the only area affected.
Across the M25 the same situation would have occurred in Egham, and further west in Wokingham - both towns divided in two by the rail line and level-crossings that would be down more than they were up.
To appoint blame to single campaigners is not just wrong, but disrespectful to the thousands of campaigners who fought this and whose lives or businesses would have been hideously affected.
This may have had a very minor role in reducing congestion on the roads on a wider scale, but a very major role locally of exacerbating it.
Are there 'thousands' of jobs going at T5 just now? I'm sure people can still get a bus there if they need to, and not rely solely on a car.

Incidentally Christine, since when was Airtrack 'super-speed'?
Bob, Airtrack would have brought gridlock to the level crossings in Mortlake and Sheen, but Richmond wasn't the only area affected. Across the M25 the same situation would have occurred in Egham, and further west in Wokingham - both towns divided in two by the rail line and level-crossings that would be down more than they were up. To appoint blame to single campaigners is not just wrong, but disrespectful to the thousands of campaigners who fought this and whose lives or businesses would have been hideously affected. This may have had a very minor role in reducing congestion on the roads on a wider scale, but a very major role locally of exacerbating it. Are there 'thousands' of jobs going at T5 just now? I'm sure people can still get a bus there if they need to, and not rely solely on a car. Incidentally Christine, since when was Airtrack 'super-speed'? ChazSheen
  • Score: 0

5:44pm Wed 13 Apr 11

Concerned_Resident says...

I agree this scheme would have caused misery for the borough. Richmond has many level crossings and the argument against increased down time was never able to be addressed. I think I saw somewhere that at certain times of the day, crossings would have only been open for a few minutes in the hour?
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Incidentally, it's not difficult to get to Heathrow from within the borough. All you do is take the train to Feltham (heaven forbid anyone in Richmond acknowledges its existence) and catch a bus. The borough also has its own direct links to the airport too. They are called the 490 bus which goes to T5 and the X26 bus which goes to the central bus terminal and tube station.
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I also think that the real victims in this are towns not in Richmond. Crossrail was promising the partial redevelopment of Staines Town Centre and the ability to travel from places like Egham, Virginia Water and so on, directly (without changing trains) to Windsor.
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I do agree that the idea of the borough being a series of small villages is mad, which was entirely influenced by a questionable consultation, mostly completed by a group of residents who may be able to remember when the borough's towns were a little smaller. I suspect that this mindset hurts Richmond more than any other, as all it does is prevent changes/improvements and leaves the borough behind.
I agree this scheme would have caused misery for the borough. Richmond has many level crossings and the argument against increased down time was never able to be addressed. I think I saw somewhere that at certain times of the day, crossings would have only been open for a few minutes in the hour? . Incidentally, it's not difficult to get to Heathrow from within the borough. All you do is take the train to Feltham (heaven forbid anyone in Richmond acknowledges its existence) and catch a bus. The borough also has its own direct links to the airport too. They are called the 490 bus which goes to T5 and the X26 bus which goes to the central bus terminal and tube station. . I also think that the real victims in this are towns not in Richmond. Crossrail was promising the partial redevelopment of Staines Town Centre and the ability to travel from places like Egham, Virginia Water and so on, directly (without changing trains) to Windsor. . I do agree that the idea of the borough being a series of small villages is mad, which was entirely influenced by a questionable consultation, mostly completed by a group of residents who may be able to remember when the borough's towns were a little smaller. I suspect that this mindset hurts Richmond more than any other, as all it does is prevent changes/improvements and leaves the borough behind. Concerned_Resident
  • Score: 0

9:03am Thu 14 Apr 11

tim_lennon says...

This isn't about getting from Richmond to Heathrow, it's about persuading thousands more people who go to Heathrow to eschew their car as a way of making the journey.

But instead we've preferred car driving in Richmond again: pedestrian crossings at Mortlake and Sheen would have alleviated walking traffic inconvenienced by more trains, but we've decided that the often ridiculously short distances people drive around our borough are too important for what would undoubtedly be the greater good of fewer people driving all the way to Heathrow from half of south London.
This isn't about getting from Richmond to Heathrow, it's about persuading thousands more people who go to Heathrow to eschew their car as a way of making the journey. But instead we've preferred car driving in Richmond again: pedestrian crossings at Mortlake and Sheen would have alleviated walking traffic inconvenienced by more trains, but we've decided that the often ridiculously short distances people drive around our borough are too important for what would undoubtedly be the greater good of fewer people driving all the way to Heathrow from half of south London. tim_lennon
  • Score: 0

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