November was another bumper period for London's busiest airport. Passenger traffic at Heathrow rose by 3.3% bringing the month's total to 6.11m - the first time the 6m threshold had been passed in November. North American's traffic increased by 5.8%, while routes from Africa were up by 10.2% thanks in particular to new services from Marrakech, the Seychelles and Durban. Cargo showed an equally strong performance with more than 130,000 tonnes being handled and China, Brazil and Turkey being notably strong markets.
Meanwhile, following a recently public consultation some 72% of respondents are backing a proposed new Western Rail Link to the airport. Network Rail has prepared plans for construction a 6.5km link to Terminal 5 that will enable travellers and workers from Reading, Twyford, Maidenhead and Slough to reach the airfield without having to double-back at Paddington or an intermediate station to the east. The link will vastly improve access to Heathrow from the west and will offer a much improved service in comparison to the current Reading-Heathrow rail-air bus link. It is also expected to cut congestion on the M4 motorway.
The proposed 6.5km Western Rail Link has gained support from the public. (Network Rail)
The Western Rail Link is expected to split from the Great Western Main Line in between Langley and Iver. The first section would be open, but almost 5km would be in a new tunnel passing under Richings Park and Colnbrook before joining the existing underground lines at Terminal 5.
A request for a Development Consent Order is likely to be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate next year, which will be subject to approval by the Secretary of State for Transport.
Other rail projects
A proposal to build a rail link between Heathrow and Windsor has already been rejected by the government. It is also thought unlikely that another speculative idea to link Heathrow with Gatwick and the Channel Tunnel - dubbed HS4 - will find favour.
Text © The Aviation Oracle