Spelthorne Borough Council is calling on the Secretary of State for Transport to back its proposed Southern Light Rail (SLR) scheme which was submitted in response to the Government's call for public transport proposals to enhance connectivity, encourage modal shift and boost economic growth in the south and west.
Submitted back in the summer, the bid set out a clear plan to provide an affordable, reliable, and deliverable public transport solution which the Council believes is the best way to improve public transport links into the airport from the south.
The SLR scheme is a straightforward and highly affordable solution at under one third of the cost of traditional heavy rail solutions (at c£375m). Entirely funded by private investment, it is also the only scheme 'on the table' which will truly be at nil cost to the taxpayer.
Light rail solutions have been tried and tested the world over, from Vancouver in Canada, whose light rail is now three decades old, to Beijing in China. At full capacity the SLR will be able to carry 84 million passengers per annum. As a stand-alone solution, it will not affect the carrying capacity of the current rail network and can grow with the airport because it can link up sections of the airport in a way that heavy rail never can - helping Heathrow to reduce private transport, and improving air quality by providing a modal shift from road to rail.
SLR can be up and running long before the completion of the third runway, much quicker than heavy rail, offering the quickest solution to the airport's public transport needs. The SLR station will link with the existing railway station in Staines-upon-Thames, providing seamless connectivity. Trains will run every six minutes and take just seven minutes to reach the airport which traditional rail solutions cannot compete with. Other advantages include no premium rate fares (it would be in Zone 6), no Government access agreements and no impact on Staines Moor.
The SLR will put Staines on the map as a centre for business growth and investment, releasing huge untapped potential and bringing Heathrow and its significant economic opportunities to our doorstep. This benefit has been recognised by the Enterprise M3 LEP who strongly support the regeneration benefits the scheme has for Staines and Spelthorne.
Cllr Ian Harvey, Leader of Spelthorne Borough Council, said: "The Council and its partners within the Consortium are confident that the SLR scheme provides the best solution to Heathrow's public transport needs from the south. It can be delivered more quickly, cheaply, and with fewer environmental impacts so we are very keen to progress this scheme as quickly as possible. We would very much welcome a green light from Government which would allow us to proceed to the next stage."