Passengers and businesses from the Thames Valley to the West Country and Wales are to receive a huge boost to their transport links, after Network Rail announced plans for a preferred route for a new rail line from the Great Western Main Line with the UK’s only hub airport, Heathrow.
The Great Western Main Line currently runs from Swansea, through Cardiff, before going on to Reading and London Paddington.
Under the new plans rail passengers travelling from west of Reading will no longer have to double-back on themselves via Paddington.
The new link means passengers in Cardiff and Swansea could have their travel times to Heathrow cut by up to 45 minutes and 53 minutes respectively, while those in Reading could have up to 27 minutes shaved off their journey.
As well as making travel abroad much easier for passengers, the plans also represent a big potential boost to the economy in the Thames Valley, the M4 corridor, South West England and south Wales.
The link will allow businesses to connect directly with Heathrow, and then on to the rest of the world, opening up new opportunities for trade.
Colin Matthews, Heathrow’s chief executive, said: “Network Rail’s plans will drive economic growth through improved access to overseas markets.
“Heathrow is already in a better location than any other UK airport.
“Western Rail access will build on that strength, helping to make sure that the whole of the UK benefits from the growth opportunities global connectivity brings.”