The environmental benefits of the proposed Heathrow South Railway line are “urgently needed” to help the government achieve the aims of its Clean Air Strategy, according to the scheme’s chief executive.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) launched its Clean Air Strategy earlier this week setting out how the UK cut air pollution.
Heathrow Southern Railway Limited (HSRL) chief executive Graham Cross claims that a southern rail access to Heathrow will reduce the “congested and polluting road system” around the airport.
“Our new railway is urgently needed to give the millions of people who currently travel to and work at the existing two runway Heathrow Airport an alternative to the unbearably congested and polluting road system,” Cross said.
“HSRL’s new rail link will be even more essential to meet the demands of a three runway airport and, specifically the public transport mode share requirements of the Airports National Policy Statement approved by Parliament.”
Heathrow Southern Railway is forecast to carry 33,000 passengers per day. HSRL estimate that this will save “around 86M car km every year which equates to an annual saving of around 8,600 t of CO2 and 2t of nitrogen oxides”.
Cross added: “Opening up Heathrow to new direct rail services from Surrey and Hampshire, Old Oak Common and Paddington – making a significant contribution to cleaner air – can be secured through our scheme without any taxpayer funding of capital investment, our costs being recovered entirely from the growth in passenger ticket sales the new railway will generate.”
A decision about plans for HSRL is expected to be made in the coming weeks. At the end of last year the government rejected two other rail schemes to Heathrow airport, including a link to Windsor and the HS4Air scheme to connect Heathrow to Gatwick, High Speed 1 and High Speed 2.
Key measures of Clean Air Strategy:
- Requirements for the rail industry to produce a road map to phase out diesel-only trains by 2040
- Ambitious long-term target to reduce exposure to particulate matter in line with World Health Organisation recommendations
- Banning the sale of wet wood, prohibiting the most-polluting fuels and ensure only the cleanest stoves are available by 2022
- A reduction in ammonia pollution through supporting farmers to invest in infrastructure to reduce emissions
- Reporting annually on the impacts of air pollution on natural habitats
- Producing guidelines in 2019 to help ports develop air quality strategies
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