14th December 2020

A proposed new direct rail link from the West to Heathrow, which would speed up journeys to Britain’s busiest international airport, by allowing passengers to travel to the airport from the South Coast, South West, South Wales and West Midlands without going into Central London, has been delayed once again.

The Chamber, who are strong supporters of the project, have written to Chris Heaton-Harris, MP, Minister of State at the Department for Transport, expressing their disappointment, following the announcement of the latest delay to the Development Consent Order (DCO) application.

Paul Britton, CEO of the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce commented  “The delay, which could push the opening of the link back to 2031, is extremely disappointing to business across the Thames Valley and to private and public sector interests from Cornwall to Sussex and Wales to the Midlands, particularly when business and the aviation and tourism industries in particular need the stimulus of such a transformational project.”

Ruth Bagley, Chair of TVCC’s WRLtH Working Group, which co-ordinates TVCC’s drive to secure WRLtH, said  “Whilst we understand the immediate problems the Government faces, we and our colleagues across the regions will continue to press for the earliest delivery of WRLtH and its long-term benefits to UK plc, to 14 million people, and to the Government’s levelling up and climate change agendas.”

WRLtH is –

  • A fully developed and costed project, capable of rapid delivery subject only to planning and final funding approval
  • Transformational – bringing substantive improvement in connectivity to 14 million people across multiple regions
  • A levelling-up project – serving and supporting regional economies in the South West, south Wales, South Central and Midlands including those regions hardest hit by Covid19 and addressing the Government’s objective of Union Connectivity
  • A carbon reduction project – delivering UK climate change targets and mitigating the impact of Heathrow
  • A vital stimulus to the recovery of the UK aviation industry
  • Value for money and with well-evidenced Return on Investment to HMG and business.
  • A catalyst for the recovery of business confidence, inward investment, international trade and inbound tourism across the benefitting areas

WRLtH is a standalone scheme, with a strong economic, environmental and commercial case, based on a two-runway airport and independent of Heathrow’s proposed expansion.