Proposals for a Heathrow hub station on a new high speed rail line fail to make a compelling case, according to a senior government adviser.
The previous Labour government commissioned former transport secretary Lord Mawhinney to look again at the options for building an integrated transport connection at the airport after rejecting the option in March when it selected its preferred route for High Speed 2 (HS2).
However, Mawhinney’s report High Speed Rail Access to Heathrow, published this week, states that “changing the route of the main high speed line to run via Heathrow, at an additional cost of £2bn to £4bn, would connect Heathrow to HS2 at a point in time when this connection is not likely to represent value for money to the taxpayer or the train operator”.
The news is likely to come as a blow to plans formulated by the Conservatives in opposition, which favoured the Heathrow Hub option designed by Arup.
But new transport secretary Philip Hammond said he was “extremely grateful” to Mawhinney for his work and said that project promoter HS2 was continuing “detailed work in this area”.
“We will therefore carefully consider Lord Mawhinney’s recommendations alongside this further work by HS2 and will announce our conclusions later this year,” he added.
As well as rejecting the Heathrow model for now, the report recommended that “serious consideration” should be given to making Old Oak Common in west London the London terminus instead of the HS2-favoured central London station at Euston.
“Connecting at Old Oak Common on to Crossrail would give a quicker and more convenient overall journey to many destinations in and around London than would travelling via Euston,” it said.