Transport secretary Philip Hammond last week rejected calls to build a west London terminus and Crossrail interchange for the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail line to the North.
He said creating such an interchange was “not an option” despite a proposal to build one at Old Oak Common, put forward by former Conservative transport secretary Lord Mawhinney.
The idea for an interchange was put forward as a way of giving high speed rail passengers from the North, access to Heathrow Airport via Crossrail.
Hammond was addressing the Commons transport select committee about plans to connect the airport into a new high speed network.
His comments followed publication last month of Mawhinney’s report, which says that the Conservative-favoured plan for a Heathrow station on the line failed to make a strong business case. The report had been commissioned by the previous Labour government.
“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,” says the report.
But Hammond argued such an interchange would be unattractive to rail passengers.
“A wet suburban station somewhere in north west London is not an option.”
“In the discussions that I’ve held with HS2 and with Lord Mawhinney, it is clear that there are different views about how that passenger experience can be delivered,” he said.
“There has to be a form of connection to Heathrow that makes sense to air travellers, that feels like a proper rail to air connection of the type that many major European airports have.
“[It] cannot be: lug your heavy bags down a couple of escalators along 600m of corridor and then change trains at a wet suburban station somewhere in north west London.
“That is not an option.”
But Hammond maintained that the government was keen on a Heathrow connection and said that one at a location away from the airport might be an option.
“There could be options that involved a transfer point that was remote from the airport itself - provided that the seamlessness of the service was of a type passengers would find acceptable,” he told the committee.