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DLR-style scheme to Heathrow enters new DfT competition

Bombardier Canada light rail transit

Spelthorne Borough Council’s Docklands Light Railway (DLR)-style scheme to give southern rail access into Heathrow airport will also be entered into the government’s light rail initiative, New Civil Engineer can reveal.

A spokesperson for the Surrey local authority told New Civil Engineer that the scheme is a contender in the government’s competition to build a southern rail access to Heathrow.

But Spelthorne councillor John Boughtflower said the council will also table the scheme as part of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) call for light rail project proposals for the UK. 

“It is very positive that the government seems to be recognising the potential of light rail in terms of providing quick, cost-effective and sustainable infrastructure,” said Boughtflower. “We will certainly be responding to the government’s call for evidence and will also be taking the opportunity to promote our scheme with DfT direct.”

Spelthorne Borough Council leader Ian Harvey added: “We want a fully privately funded light rail link into Heathrow delivered before the third runway is operational and will continue to push hard for a clear and quick timetable for this to happen.”

The proposal for a light rail link from Staines-upon-Thames to the airport, with a new station at Staines, was originally entered into the DfT’s market sounding exercise for southern rail links into Heathrow.

Several bidders for the parallel DfT call for ideas for market-led rail proposals were rejected outright when the government published its response to both exercises in December last year.

Rejected projects included the high profile Windsor Link Railway proposal, which in its second phase, would have provided a southern rail access into the airport.

But the Spelthorne scheme remains in the running and is in direct competition to the Heathrow Southern Rail (HSR) proposal which involves building a 13km long heavy rail route from Chertsey to Heathrow. 

Last month, a DfT official said that the HSR scheme “falls short” of government requirements as it would require a government guarantee to give it track access on existing overlapping routes.

In addition to the Spelthorne scheme there are a number of light rail proposals across the UK at differing stages of development which could submit their ideas under the new process, including the Cambridge autonomous metro, Leeds mass rapid transit and Manchester metro extensions.

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