PLANS to create a new £1.3bn railway line will provide a direct link from Basingstoke to Heathrow Airport, cutting the journey time.

London mayor Sadiq Khan has backed proposals for a new railway link to connect Heathrow Airport with south west London, Surrey, Berkshire and Hampshire, which would cut the journey time for those travelling from Basingstoke, creating a direct link with the airport.

Speaking at the London Assembly, Mr Khan said that a “number of factors” had “increased the prospects” of the Heathrow Southern Railway Link (HSRL) scheme moving forward.

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The new rail connection would reduce journey times for those travelling from Basingstoke, with Terminal Five accessible from the town in just 43 minutes, compared to the current train journey which can take nearly an hour and involves changing at Woking.

Journey times to Terminals Two and Three at the airport from Basingstoke would take just 47 minutes, with trains running every half an hour from the town. 

The privately funded project would see the construction of up to eight miles of new railway from the west end of the existing Terminal Five station, linking with the existing south western network.

It would open up access to and through Heathrow from the south west and south east of England by enabling trains to operate between Heathrow and Waterloo via Clapham Junction, Putney, Hounslow, Twickenham, Richmond, Staines and other intermediate stations; and between Heathrow, Woking, Guildford, Farnborough and Basingstoke.

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The new railway line would also improve connectivity for commuters, creating a new route from Basingstoke, Guildford and Woking via Heathrow Airport to Old Oak Common (for HS2 and the Elizabeth Line) and London Paddington.

The project is estimated to reduce the number of road journeys by around three million and avoid the release of two tones of NOx and 8,600 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

HSR would be financed privately, potentially operating at no cost to taxpayers, and could open by 2027/28.

The company behind the project, which would build and own the infrastructure, has proposed that train operators could run passenger services on the route by paying them an access charge, which would be overseen by the Office for Rail and Road regulator.

However, it does need government action to identify a preferred developer and provide assurance that once built trains must use it.

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Chris Stokes, HSRL, previously said: “Despite the current massive reduction in airline patronage as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, a southern rail link to Heathrow remains a powerful illustration of the need to build back better as the worldwide economy bounces back.

“As air passengers numbers recover, increasing the proportion of customers and airport staff accessing Heathrow by rail will be essential if congestion and air quality issues in south west London and Surrey are to be addressed.”

Mr Khan’s backing for the project came when he was questioned by leader of the Liberal Democrats, Caroline Pidgeon, at the London Assembly.

Asked whether he supported the project, he replied: “I welcome the useful role that a Southern Rail Link to Heathrow could play in supporting a shift to sustainable modes, while transforming access to Heathrow Airport for passengers and staff from South London, Surrey, and Hampshire.

“I am aware that a number of factors coming together in recent months have increased the prospects of a scheme moving forward.”

He added that the Greater London Authority and Transport for London “maintain regular dialogue with a broad range of stakeholders as we look to resolve the issues which have obstructed progress to date”.