Over the last few years a number of people have been looking at different ways of building a second high speed rail line in the UK.
One of these is the idea proposed by Heathrow Hub. Their submission to the Transport Select Committee last year suggested an alternative to HS2 with a station at Heathrow included in the plans from the start. As their submission says
“Heathrow Hub adopts a different approach. It provides a new airport entry point located directly on the existing road and rail network, with a major intermodal interchange on the Great Western Main Line (GWML), Crossrail and the M25, (a short distance north of its junction with the M4), on a readily developable, unconstrained site less than 4km from Heathrow Terminal 5—similar to the distance between T5 and the new T2.”
Heathrow Hub Ltd have now launched a judicial review against the Department for Transport, over their decision on HS2. The ideas presented by Heathrow Hub were sent to the Dft in 2009, long before the current HS2 proposal was published.
This makes it clear that the flaws with HS2, the consultation and Justine’s decision are visible to a huge range of people, including vocal supporters of high speed rail.
The only reasons why Heathrow passengers from Birmingham and North West are fed via London can be the franchise system, designed to ensure that existing franchisees secure a guaranteed level of custom, and to benefit London’s transport system.
The route Birmingham to Heathrow via Euston currently takes about 3 hours. National Rail Enquiries says it can be done in less time – but only by suggesting that passengers can jump off the main line train at Euston onto the Underground for Paddington in less than an instant eg train from Bir New St arrives Euston at 12 54hr, Underground departs 12 54hr.
Via Oxford / Reading, the journey can (at times) be made in less time even after passing close to the airport at Hayes & Harlington into Paddington and then back out to the airport.
By joined-up routing, Heathrow could easily be no more than 90min from Birmingham. Looking at the various plans, including Crossrail, I can only conclude that it is government policy designed to promote HS2 that has prevented a line directly into Heathrow from the West and by default from Midlands and North West. Even without a direct line into Heathrow from the West, the route Birmingham-Reading-Heathrow could easily be reduced to 2 hours using the existing Crossrail plan which requires a change at Hayes & Harlington.
The grandiose HS2 plan says we must not be left behind by more advanced nations. There is no other advanced nation (outside USA) which has not had the benefit of intercity rail connections to its capital’s main airport for many years.