Mon, 28 May 2018
WEST Berkshire residents are being urged to back a new Western Rail Link which will improve access from the Royal County to Heathrow Airport and create a “global Newbury”.
Newbury MP Richard Benyon has been actively encouraging his constituents to support Network Rail’s proposal to build a 6.5km rail link connecting Reading and Slough with Britain’s busiest airport. West Berkshire Council has also given its backing to the scheme.
The rail link would leave the main line between Langley and Iver, descending underneath the main railway line into a cutting, before entering a 5km tunnel to Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport.
It would speed up journeys by allowing passengers to travel from Heathrow without going into London Paddington and will reduce congestion, improve air quality and support businesses in competing in international markets.
Last week, Network Rail opened consultation on the proposal and residents are being encouraged to take part.
Mr Benyon hailed the network as a “fantastic project” which could boost West Berkshire’s economy. He said: “We are fortunate to have a number of truly global businesses based in this area and the new rail link will bring Newbury closer to the rest of the world.
“As we leave the European Union, we need to create opportunities around the world to do business and the western rail link will help build that vision of a global Newbury. I would encourage my constituents to contribute to the consultation.”
Mr Benyon is working with several other MPs, both locally and across the west of the UK, to generate support for the project.
Earlier this month, he held the inaugural meeting of the Western Rail Link All Party Parliamentary Group with co-chairman Tan Dhesi, MP for Slough, who praised the huge support the project had already gathered across different political parties.
Easing congestion on roads and lower CO2 emissions are among the advantages of the scheme, which is also expected to generate £800m of economic growth across the Thames Valley.
The new rail link will also help deliver Newbury Vision 2026 – a strategy for the town, which among other things, aims to increase travel choices and encourage journeys by rail, bus, walking and cycling.
West Berkshire Council’s executive member for highways and transport Jeanette Clifford (Con, Northcroft) said the district council had “enthusiastically” backed the initiative.
She said: “What we will see is travel to and from Heathrow becoming quicker, easier and greener – and even people who never use the airport will benefit from reduced congestion and better air quality.
“We hope that people in West Berkshire will show their support by taking part in the consultation. It only takes a couple of minutes – and every voice will help make the link a reality.”
To find out more on the consultation, which closes on June 22, visit www.networkrail.co.uk/heathrow