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Justine Greening pledges backing for Reading - Heathrow Link

Eager wait for airport rail link study  from: http://www.readingchronicle.co.uk/news/roundup/articles/2011/12/01/55600-eager-wait-for-airport-rail-link-study/

 

TRANSPORT secretary Justine Greening has pledged her backing for an emerging multi million pound railway project directly linking Reading to Heathrow Airport.

Ms Greening revealed she is "awaiting with interest" the outcome of a proposed western rail link to the London airport which she anticipates will boost the region's transport network and economic fortunes.

Network Rail is just weeks away from unveiling results of a feasibility study for the £180-£500m scheme which will slash journey times from Reading to the airport to just 28 minutes and to eight minutes from Slough.

Speaking last Thursday at a Westminster reception organised by Reading East MP Rob Wilson, when the Midweek and Chronicle were the only media from the Reading area represented, Ms Greening told rail chiefs and Thames Valley-based businesses: "This is one of those projects where you instinctively see its rationale and benefits. You only have to go past Reading on the M4 to see how much business is there, but in terms of the railway prospects it is so near yet so far.

"This will not just benefit the railways it will benefit the rest of the country and its economy."

Network Rail's £119,000 study explores several options with the most likely route featuring a new 6km (3.72 mile) railway line and tunnel linking platforms at Heathrow Terminal Five with the Great Western Mainline east of Langley Station.

Currently companies in this area spend up to £10m annually on taxi fares to Heathrow because train travellers face either face a lengthy detour via London or catching Rail Air buses from Reading Station which take 40 minutes to complete the road journey.

Mr Wilson said the proposals could bring "enormous" economic benefits to Reading and added: "Today demonstrates the tremendous spirit for this project across the political divide and from business and industry in the area. It should give us great heart and it's a project we can go forward with."

First Great Western sponsored the reception, and company projects and planning director Matthew Golton [corr] said the scheme could help take the pressure off crowded trains travelling into London, adding: "It will be great for the communities we serve and is vital for the economy."

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