Heathrow rail link 'could cut Maidenhead journey time to 14 minutes'


Emma Billingham

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Journeys from Maidenhead to Heathrow Terminal 5 could be cut down to just 14 minutes if the proposed Great Western Rail Link to Heathrow is given the go-ahead.

Network Rail is hoping to connect Reading, Twyford, Maidenhead and Slough railway stations to a new railway line which is currently still in its development stage.

The journey time from Slough to Terminal 5 could be seven minutes, and a journey from Twyford to the airport could take as little as 21 minutes.

The Maidenhead and District Chamber of Commerce (MDCC) hosted an event last night with project managers Robbie Burns OBE and Anthony Bolton from Network Rail speaking.

Members of the business community within the town, as well as interested residents, were invited to the event at the Holiday Inn in Manor Lane.

Mr Burns said: "In February and March we had the first public consultation, and 81 per cent of people agree to build the link. Of that 70 per cent strongly agree  — that is something that is really key for us.

"A large amount of congestion will also come off the roads as people use the trains."

Network Rail plan to submit the first planning application for the £7billion project in late 2017, with the planning inspectorate examination then expected to take around 18 months.

If permission is given, works are set to start in 2019 with passenger services starting in 2024.

Funding for the project is still being sought, but Mr Burns is positive the business case for the project is strong enough to get funding past the development stage.

He added that the rail link would also still go ahead even if a third runway at Heathrow did not, though the expansion 'would surely strengthen the business case for it'.

President of the MDCC Olu Odeniyi said: "The chamber wants to support what supports business in our community. "This project will really help Maidenhead and the rail link for businesses that are here it can only get better."



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