Saturday, 23 February 2008


With BAA looking forward to openning T5 next month, I thought it time to look at the £400m Airtrack scheme. The Airtrack scheme is a heavy rail link from Heathrow T5 on the western side. The idea would be to link T5 to Staines then onwards to Waterloo in the east or Reading & Guildford in the west. They have already built two platforms at T5 for the exclusive use by Airtrack. £5m of funding has been raised for the Transport & Works Act. Most of the scheme uses existing railways up to Staines, where remodelling of the station will be needed for the service. Once north of Staines the Airtrack will branch off to run along with the M25. It then goes underground and turns east to meet the T5 station. Currently the aim is that services will start in 2013. BAA have a good history as T5 came in under budget and was finished before the deadline, so maybe we'll get to see this service soon (unlike Crossrail and Hackney & Chelsea lines which have taken decades). There is also long term plans for Airtrack from TfL as they are looking at extending Crossrail Line 1 from Heathrow along Airtrack. What is curious is that Reading is one of the terminal points for Airtrack and it still possible for Crossrail. It could provide Crossrail with a secondly route from Reading into Central London via Heathrow providing a useful link as well as free space up for Waterloo. Note as well that Tfl and BAA are in talks as Heathrow Connect service is likely to be eaten up by Crossrail, keeping Heathrow Express as a seprate product with premium fares to match this. Clapham Junction is also a possible link for Hackney & Chelsea line (aka Crossrail 2) so it could be routed to servce Heathrow from Clapham then onwards to North East London. With a link to the Lea Valley lines Crossrail 2 could run from Heathrow to Stansted via Central London, filling the role of national links instead of using planes for local travel. I won't mention Crossrail 3 (rumoured to be Waterloo to Euston). Fanasty maybe, with with the development of Crossrail, Thameslink and now Airtrack, you never quite know where we are going but this is one way to provide additional travel opitions on new lines. Bit like what the Underground did in the early 20th century. The 21st is to take regional lines to nice big tunnels with the ability to cope with future growth.

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