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Mayor gives cautious backing to Waterloo - Heathrow rail link

London SE1 website team

The Mayor of London has given tentative support to the London Borough of Wandsworth's proposal for a new direct train service between Waterloo Station and Heathrow Airport.

Boris Johnson

Wandsworth's Airtrack-Lite proposal is based on a previous scheme drawn up by Heathrow's owners BAA which was abandoned earlier this year due to a lack of funding and concerns about the impact of sending extra trains across already busy level crossings in south west London.

The new proposal would provide four trains an hour from Waterloo to Heathrow's terminal 5 via Clapham Junction and Putney. Half the trains would run via the Hounslow loop and half via Richmond.

The plans avoid sending extra trains via level crossings in Mortlake and Egham which had prompted opposition from local residents.

Wandsworth's Airtrack-Lite concept would not change the overall number of trains running to and from Waterloo but would reroute existing services.

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 High Street and a new stretch of track from Staines to terminal 5 at Heathrow. The rest of the route would run along existing lines.

Conservative London Assembly member for Wandsworth and Merton Richard Tracey tabled a question to Boris Johnson to find out whether the Mayor would endorse Wandsworth Council's proposals.

"The London Borough of Wandsworth has used considerable initiative to develop the proposal they have entitled Airtrack-Lite," said the Mayor in a written answer published this week.

"New infrastructure between Staines and Heathrow terminal 5 would still be required but some of the impacts on level crossings in south west London could be avoided.

"This scheme could have the potential to improve rail access to Heathrow from south west London.

"However, while the cost of the scheme could be less than the original BAA proposal, it would require funding support from the Government and BAA.

"Transport for London would be happy to work with Wandsworth, Network Rail and BAA to explore this scheme further."

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