£500 Million Western Rail Access to Heathrow Secured
Rob has responded to the Transport Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer’s announcement that funding has been secured for his campaign for western rail access to London Heathrow Airport by saying he is “delighted at the excellent news that the Government has backed the proposal.” This now means Reading will have a direct rail route to Europe’s busiest airport.
Transport Secretary Justine Greening has today published the Government’s long-term strategy for the aviation industry which includes £500million towards the western rail link to Heathrow which will slash journey times to the airport for Reading residents. It is currently estimated that it costs business in Reading £10million per year to get to and from Heathrow by taxi. Rob has previously described how this has blunted the commercial competitiveness of the area.
Commenting on Rob’s successful work on the project, the Secretary of State for Transport, Justine Greening, said, “Rob has done a brilliant job of making the case for Western rail access to Heathrow from the first day I was appointed Transport Secretary and I am delighted the Government has been able to give the go ahead to this scheme. It will benefit huge numbers of people travelling to our hub airport and I congratulate Rob on his successful campaign.”
Rob has led the campaign for a western extension since 2011 and brought together the key stakeholders for the project, kick-started in July last year by bringing the former Transport Secretary Philip Hammond together with BAA, First Great Western, Network Rail, Whitehall officials and London Heathrow Airport. Since then he has chaired all the regular meetings for the campaign in Westminster to drive the project forward. He has also made regular representations to the Transport Secretary, using his Westminster influence to deliver this fantastic investment for Reading with benefits stretching to Wales and all regions in the South of England. For the first time, the business case was formally put together and presented to the Department of Transport as a result of the group’s work.
Last November Rob hosted a Parliamentary Reception for the key players on the project at the House of Commons with Justine Greening as the guest speaker. At the reception the Transport Secretary hinted that the plans would go-ahead but that we would have to wait for the publication of the Government’s Aviation Strategy.
Following the announcement Rob said, “I am delighted at the excellent news that the Government has backed proposals for a western rail link to Heathrow. The fact that £500m has been allocated for this strategic addition to our transport infrastructure will cement Reading’s pre-eminent position as a transport hub and a fantastic place to do business. It will also end any thoughts that important businesses have of leaving the area.
“The work all of our partners put into this project has paid off and I am glad I was able to bring the companies and officials together. We’ve been working on this for over a year and thanks to the Transport Secretary and the Chancellor seeing the very clear benefits of the scheme, Reading will become far more accessible to business regionally, nationally and now internationally too.
The investment in western access to Heathrow is the latest in a series of substantial investments secured for Reading by Rob Wilson MP, which include a new UTC School and Reading Station upgrade. The investments total well over £1 billion.