The Anonymous Widower

Are Network Rail And Heathrow Southern Railway Moving Towards A Joint Project On Western And Southern Access To Heathrow Airport?

In Could Rail Access To Heathrow Be Formed Of The Best Bits Of Various Schemes?, which I wrote in August 2018, I came to an extensive series of conclusions, which I have now changed as HS4Air and Windsor Link Railway have now been consigned to the landfill site of unbuilt projects.

In Could Rail Access To Heathrow Be Formed Of The Best Bits Of Various Schemes, But Discounting HS4Air And Windsor Link Railway?, I give my latest views.

These were my conclusions.

Heathrow Connectivity

Heathrow needs a very high level of connectivity, for passengers, workers and freight.

The two major schemes, that are left,  provide that.

  • Heathrow Southern Railway, which extends Heathrow Express to the South West and provides links to Waterloo and Greater South London.
  • Western Rail Approach To Heathrow does what it says in the name.

Both schemes would share the same Western access route to Terminal 5 station and this could be modified to serve a new rail terminal under the new third runway.

What About The Workers?

Heathrow’s other big need is rail access for the increasing numbers of people, who work at the airport and live locally.

  • Heathrow Southern Railway links the airport to South West London.
  • Western Rail Approach To Heathrow links the airport to Reading and Slough.
  • Crossrail links the airport to Old Oak Common with its housing developments and rail connections with High Speed 2 and the London Overground.
  • West London Orbital Railway will bring more workers and passengers to Old Oak Common from all over North West and South West London.

Old Oak Common will be important for many working at the airport.

Pollution Solution

As the airport develops, Heathrow Southern Railway and Western Rail Approach To Heathrow could together make a substantial reduction in the pollution emitted by the airport.

Old Oak Common station

Old Oak Common station will become an important interchange for workers and passengers travelling to and from Heathrow.

  • It must be totally step-free.
  • Some of the long interchange walks on current plans should be augmented by travelators.
  • Crossrail is planning six tph between Old Oak Common and Heathrow. Is that enough?

Get Old Oak Common right and all those needing to go to and from Heathrow will benefit.

Heathrow And Gatwick

The connection between Heathrow and Gatwick airports is tortuous at present, but will get better as the years progress, as Crossrail and Thameslink improve.

As the airports grow, with a third runway at Heathrow and a second one at Gatwick, how many people will want to travel quickly between the two airports, as increasingly, both airports will offer services to more destinations?

As a Londoner, I also believe that we will see more split flights, where passengers stopover in London for a night or two, when they are going halfway around the world.

Terminal London will be the best airport transfer terminal in the world.

Heathrow And High Speed One

I will be very surprised if many travellers need to go quickly between Heathrow and High Speed One.

For those that need to do it, using an extended Crossrail between Heathrow and Ebbsfleet will probably be good enough.

Heathrow And High Speed Two

For all sorts of reasons Heathrow needs good connectivity to High Speed Two.

With the elimination of direct access to the airport by High Speed Two, a short journey between Heathrow Airport and Old Oak Common stations will have to be acceptable.

It should also be noted, that Network Rail’s Western Approach To Heathrow (WRAtH) and Heathrow Southern Railway (HSR) would share the following infrastructure or interests.

  • Heathrow Terminal Five station.
  • The Western access tunnel and track to Heathrow.
  • Network Rail is planning a flyover at Woking, which would help HSR’s plans.

If a rail terminal were to be built under a new third runway, that too would be shared.

An Update On Heathrow Southern Railway

In the May 2019 Edition of Modern Railways there is an article which Is entitled Time For Action On Heathrow’s Southern Link.

Most of the article takes the form of an interview with Graham Cross, who is the Chief Executive of HSR.

The first part is a call to the Government to make a decision soon, as otherwise HSR’s funding and timescale will be at risk.

In the rest of the article, Mr. Cross talks about the project and introduces some changes.

More Tunnels

This is an extract from the Modern Railways article.

The line would be mainly in tunnel to minimise environmental impact. “We would need to tunnel under certain obstacles anyway, and once you’ve set up tunnel boring machines, you might as well stay underground.” says Mr.Cross.

Could this move to tunnels also be driven by improved tunnelling techniques and cost savings, in addition to the environmental impact?

If so, will we be seeing more new tunnels in the UK, for rail, roads, electricity and sewage?

This Google Map shows the Northern section of the HSR route.


  1. The South-Western corner of Heathrow Airport can just be seen in the North-Eastern corner of the map.
  2. Wraysbury station is towards the North-Western corner of the map.
  3. The M25 running North-South
  4. Staines station is the station South of the King George VI Reservoir
  5. The Staines-Windsor Line running North-West from Staines station.
  6. The Waterloo-Reading Line running West from Staines station.

The HSR would need to thread its way on the Eastern side of the M25.

From the map in the Modern Railways article, it appears that the route from Heathrow Terminal 5 station splits into two Southerly routes a short distance to the East of the point where the Staines-Windsor Line goes under the M25.

This map from may help to make everything clearer.


  1. The reservoirs are shown.
  2. The troublesome level crossings between Staines and Egham.
  3. It also spears that there is a disused railway going North through Yeovenney Halt.
  4. Yeovenney Halt would not be far from the route of the HSR to the East of where the M25 and the Staines-Windsor Line cross.

This Google Map shows the area in detail.

It’s not an area that with large numbers of houses and businesses.

Two routes are shown for HSR on the map in Modern Railways from the area to the East of where the M25 and the Staines-Windsor Line cross.

  • One route joins the Staines- Windsor Line to take trains to and from Staines station.
  • A second route is shown passing under the Staines-Windsor Line.


  1. As there is plenty of space, a flyover could be built if needed to connect Heathrow Airport to Staines station.
  2. The space would also be useful for creating a tunnel portal to continue the route to the South.

Two options are shown on the map in Modern Railways, to connect Heathrow to the Chertsey Branch Line.

Option 3 connects to North of Virginia Water station.
Option 8 connects to North of Chertsey station.

This Google Map shows Virginia Water and Staines stations and the area in between.


  1. Virginia Water station is towards the bottom-left of the map,
  2. Staines station is towards the top right.
  3. The area of Yeovenney Halt can just be seen.

This Google Map shows the area between M25 and Chertsey station.

Note that Chertsey station is in the South-East corner of the map.

It looks like one or even both of the routes from Yeovenney Halt to the Chertsey Branch Line could be fairly easy to dig.

  • There could be suitable sites at both Virginia Water and Chertsey.
  • The distance is under ten miles.
  • Much of the work could probably be done without closing the railways.
  • There’s space for a flyover at both locations.
  • Very few, if any business or residents would need to sell up and move.
  • The tunnels could even be under the M25.

As Mr. Cross said, tunnelling could be a good option.

As WRAtH will also be tunnelled could both twin bore tunnels be dug with the same tunnel boring machines? Or as part of the same contract?

There certainly seem to be options for co-operation between the two projects to save money.

No West-Facing Triangular Junction At Staines

This is an extract from the Modern Railways article.

An earlier idea to create a triangular junction with a west-facing connection towards Egham did not command local aupport and was dropped.

I described this previously in Heathrow Southern Railway’s Proposed Chord At Staines.

It was intended to enable a two tph service between Weybridge and Heathrow Terminal 5 stations.

I would assume passengers are happy to change trains at Staines, which is step-free.

The Google Map visualisation, shows the footbridge at Staines station.

Waterloo To Heathrow Services

This is an extract from the Modern Railways article.

The first would comprise a four trains per hour (tph) service from Waterloo to Heathrow Terminal 5 as an extension of existing SWR services, with 2 tph running via Twickenham and 2 tph via Hounslow. HSR envisages these services would be formed of SWR’s new Class 701 trains.


  1. Ten-car Class 701 trains will probably be used.
  2. These trains have 556 seats and can accommodate 740 standees, which is nearly 1300 passengers.

The frequency and capacity compares well with Crossrail to the Airport.

Heathrow Express Extension To Woking, Guilford and Basingstoke

This will become two services wit a frequency of two tph.

  • Paddington and Guildford via Old Oak Common, Heathrow, Woking and Basingstoke.
  • Paddington and Guildford via Old Oak Common, Heathrow, Woking and Guildford.


  1. Basingstoke, Guildford and Paddington get a direct train to Heathrow, Old Oak Common and Paddinhgton.
  2. Twelve car Class 387 trains would work the service.
  3. My rough estimate says thirty four-car sets would be needed.
  4. A twelve-car Class 387 train has sixty percent more seats than a nine-car Class 332 train.

It is also said in the article, that a flyover could be built at Woking in CP6, which would help the Heathrow Express services.

Crossrail Extension To A Bay Platform At Staines Station

In Heathrow Southern Railway’s Plans For Staines, I discussed a plan to extend Crossrail services from Heathrow Terminal 5 station to a bay platform at Staines station.

It is not mentioned in the Modern Railways , so am I right to think, it is not going to happen.

  • The proposed Waterloo to Heathrow Terminal 5, will provide a capacity of 5,200 passengers per hour between Staines and Heathrow Terminal 5
  • Do WRAtH intend to run the two tph, that HSR wanted for Staines, to Slough and Reading to provide Western access to Heathrow?

So dropping the original plan is probably a reasonable decision.

How Many Trains Will Use Heathrow Terminal 5 Station

Currently, the service to Heathrow Terminal 5 station is as follows.

  • 4 tph – Heathrow Express – Paddington and Terminal 5
  • 2 tph – TfL Rail – Paddington and Terminal 5

There is also a shuttle to Terminal 4 station, running approximately every fifteen minutes.


After Crossrail opens the service will be.

  • 4 tph – Heathrow Express – Paddington and Terminal 5
  • 2 tph – Croosrail – Paddington and Terminal 5

Only the name on the train and the train type will have changed.


According to Wikipedia, WRAtH will have the following services.

t is envisaged that there would be a service of four trains an hour from Heathrow to Slough and Reading. Earlier publicity also suggested there would be two trains per hour to Twyford and Maidenhead.

Heathrow Express have offered to run services to Reading which would stop only at Slough.

I have I have a few thoughts.

  • A service from Reading must have access to all terminals at Heathrow.
  • All stations between Langley and Reading need at least two tph to Heathrow.
  • Should services between Paddington and Heathrow be extended to Reading?
  • Services must run on a 24/7 basis, to allow people to get to and from work and passengers on seriously delayed flights to get to their destination..

One way to provide a good basic service would be to combine the shuttle between Terminal 4 and 5 with the service to Slough and Reading.

  • A train starting at Reading would call at a number of stations including Slough on its way to Heathrow Airport.
  • It would then call at the following station in order; Heathrow Terminal 5, Heathrow Central, Heathrow Terminal 4, Heathrow Central and Heathrow Terminal 5.
  • It would then return to Reading via Slough.

The stopping pattern between Langley and Reading would be arranged to suit passenger needs.

Advantages of this extended shuttle are as follows.

  • All terminals are served by services originating in the West.
  • The four tph shuttle is matched with four tph on WRAtH to and from Reading.
  • No Westward-facing bay platform is needed at Terrminal 5 to turn trains from Reading.
  • A Westward-facing bay platform might be useful for service recovery.

All trains using WRAtH to and from Reading would use through platforms at Terminal 5.


HSR will have the following services.

  • 2 tph – Heathrow Express – Paddington and Basingstoke via Woking
  • 2 tph – Heathrow Express – Paddington and Guildford via Woking
  • 2 tph – SWR – Waterloo and Terminal 5 via Hounslow and Staines
  • 2 tph – SWR – Waterloo and Terminal 5 via Twickenham and Staines


  1. The Heathrow Express services will use through platforms.
  2. The Waterloo services could use a bsay platform.

This map from shows the current layout of platforms at Heathrow.


Adding all the requirements together, the following platforms will be needed.

Two through platforms for the following services.

  • 2 tph – Heathrow Express – Paddington and Basingstoke via Woking
  • 2 tph – Heathrow Express – Paddington and Guildford via Woking
  • 4 tph – Crossrail – WRAtH services between Reading and all terminals


  1. Eight tph would not be difficult to handle.
  2. Heathrow Express and the WRAtH services would alternate.
  3. There would be same platform interchanges between Heathrow Express and WRAtH services.

In addition, there would be the following.

  • A bay platform for Waterloo services.
  • Possibly another platform for service recovery.

Ther could also be extra platforms for long distance services between Heathrow Terminal 5 and destinations like Bristol, Cardiff, Oxford and Plymouth

It has amazed me, how by combining HSR, Crossrail, Heathrow Express and WRAtH services together needs so few platforms in Terminal 5 station.


Network Rail’s Western Appoach To Heathrow and Heathrow Southern Railway may currently be two separate schemes with different funding models, but they have a lot of shared infrastructure, interests and objectives.

Both projects would surely be better with strong co-operation.

Judging by how well it all seems to fit, it does seem that they are talking.



April 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 12 Comments

Heathrow Southern Railway’s Proposed Chord At Staines

In an article in the December 2016 Edition of Modern Railways about the Heathrow Southern Railway, Chris Stokes proposes a new chord at Staines to connect the lines to Reading and Windsor.

This map from shows the chord.



  1. London trains take the lines to the East.
  2. Windsor and Heathrow trains take or will take the lines to the North-West.
  3. Reading trains take the lines to the South-West.

The chord is shown as a pair of dotted lines between the Windsor and Reading Lines.

These pictures taken from a train from Egham to London, show how the chord has been developed.

In the article this is said about how the chord could be used.

With the addition of a chord at Staines, it would also be potentially possible to operate a half-hourly Weybridge – Virginia Water – Egham – Terminal 5 service, providing a further attractive local link to Heathrow.

If this service were to be added, that raised the problem of putting the chord through the development.


March 29, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | 2 Comments

Traffic Between Windsor And Staines After The Building Of Heathrow Southern Railway

Currently, Windsor and Eton Riverside station has a two train per hour (tph) service to Waterloo, which calls at Staines.

These are also the only trains on the Staines-Windsor Line.

So if, there are four tph on a Crossrail service from Heathrow to Staines, as  I talked about in Heathrow Southern Railway’s Plans For Staines, then that only raises the frequency of the  trains on the Southern part of the Staines-Windsor Line to six tph.

In his article about the Heathrow Southern Railway in the December 2016 Edition of Modern Railways, Chris Stokes says this.

With the addition of a chord at Staines, it would also be potentially possible to operate a half-hourly Weybridge – Virginia Water – Egham – Terminal 5 service, providing a further attractive local link to Heathrow.

If this service were to be added, that only raises the frequency to eight tph.

I suspect that if modern signalling techniques were applied, that the capacity of this route would be above this frequency.

Heathrow Terminal 5 Station

I doubt there will be any problems of capacity at Heathrow Terminal 5 station.

The station has been built with two Piccadilly Line and four heavy rail platforms.

This map from, shows the platform layout.


  1. It would appear there are only two heavy rail platforms in use.
  2. Through trains would use these currently in use platforms.
  3. The two spare platforms could be arranged, so that they could handle a terminating train from either direction.
  4. The terminating platforms can probably handle four tph or even six tph.
  5. The through platforms can handle well over ten tph, with the right signalling.

Someone seems to have got the design right.

The Future Of Heathrow Express

In his Modern Railways article, Chris Stokes says this about services from Woking to Heathrow.

We have assumed half-hourly services from Basingstoke and Guildford to Heathrow and Paddington, providing a 15-minute frequency from Woking, with stops at Farnborough Main (Basingstoke services), Working, Terminal 5, Terminal 2 and 3 and Old Oak Common.

He also says that this service could take over the Heathrow Express paths and it would use the through platforms at Heathrow Terminal 5 station.

This arrangement has several advantages.

  • Heathrow Express doesn’t terminate in the tunnels under Terminal 5.
  • No new train paths between Heathrow and Paddington are required
  • Heathrow Express gets  new destinations without any expensive new infrastructure.

But it would appear that Heathrow Express may have a future.


March 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Heathrow Southern Railway’s Plans For Staines

In an article in the December 2016 Edition of Modern Railways about the Heathrow Southern Railway, Chris Stokes outlines how railway will serve Staines.

The addition of a bay platform at Staines, deliverable within the existing railway boundary, would assist service resilience and potentially allow extension of Crossrail services from T5 to Staines, providing a highly attractive alternative route from Staines to central London, together with enhanced interchange with South Western services. Journey times from Staines to Paddington would be as fast as to Waterloo, with excellent central London distribution provided by Crossrail. We would expect the majority of Staines to central London passengers to transfer to Crossrail, with significant interchange to Crossrail from intermediate stations between Staines and Reading, relieving overcrowding between Staines and Waterloo.

This map from shows the rail lines at Staines station.


  1. London trains take the lines to the East.
  2. Windsor and Heathrow trains take or will take the lines to the North-West.
  3. Reading trains take the lines to the South-West.

Heathrow Southern Railway plan to add a bay platform in the North West corner of the station.

  • It will be built on current railway land. (Chris Stokes)
  • It will help with the resilience of the train service. (Chris Stokes)
  • It could possibly be the terminus of an extended Crossrail service from Heathrow Terminal 5. (Chris Stokes)

I shall now look at various features, benefits and possible problems in detail.

Could A 205 Metre Long Platform Be Built?

The Google Map shows Staines station.


  1. The five-car blue train in the station.
  2. The train is probably a Class 458 train, which is just over a hundred metres long.
  3. Crossrail’s Class 345 trains are up to 205 metres long.
  4. The two footbridges over the tracks.
  5. The junction, where the tracks split to the West of the station.

These pictures show the area, where the new bay platform would go.

The Station Path and the green space are clearly shown on the Google Map.

Using the train in the station as a hundred metre ruler, I feel that with good design a platform, that was long enough for a Class 345 train could be built.

  • The path would be landscaped.
  • The platform would connect to the London-bound Platform 1.
  • There is probably space for some shelters and other facilities.
  • There might be a new entrance to the station at the West end.

Platforms have been built in much more difficult locations than this.

What Frequency Of Trains Could The Platform Handle?

Many terminal platforms in the UK handle four trains per hour  (tph).

Crossrail will actually handle 12 tph using three terminal platforms at Shenfield station, when the station gets the full service in May 2019.

I don’t think it would be outrageous to say, that the single bay platform at Staines station would be able to handle four tph.

Would Crossrail Want To Serve Staines?

Crossrail’s current service plans are lop-sided, with more trains going to the East than to the West. This means that 12 tph turnback at Paddington station.

I’m sure they would welcome extra termini in the West!

Heathrow Southern Railway’s plan is that trains will pass through Heathrow Terminal 5 station and then take the new rail link to Staines.

Crossrail’s current plan envisages two tph terminating in Heathrow Terminal 5 station, but I don’t think with the right signalling and timetable, that running four tph through the airport to the bay platform at Staines, would be impossible.

But this will only happen if there are the passengers to use the service.

Who Might Use Crossrail To And From Staines?

Chris Stokes said this.

We would expect the majority of Staines to central London passengers to transfer to Crossrail

As there is research behind the proposal, this will be right.

But there is one group of passengers, who will welcome Crossrail with open arms.

That is those people, who live in Staines or the surrounding area and work or want to work at Heathrow.

As Chris Grayling announced that Southern access to Heathrow was a priority, I discussed it with one of South Western’s station staff.

They put me right about getting from Staines to Heathrow for an early shift.

Crossrail’s Plans for Heathrow at 6th January 2019

Om the 9th January 2019, Wikipdia said that following Crossrail trains will run to Heathrow.

  • Terminal 4 – Four trains per hour (tph)
  • Terminal 5 – two tph

In addition it looks like Heathrow Express will run four tph to Terminal 5.

Heathrow Southern Railway plan to run the Heathrow Express services through to Basingstoke, Guildford and Woking.

If Crossrail were to run four tph to Staines in addition the extended Heathrow Express at four tph, that would only be one train every seven and a half minutes. Compare this with the time it takes of ten minutes to turn trains in the platform at Heathrow Terminal 5 station.

I would suspect it could be possible to run four tph through Terminal 5 to a bay platform at Staines.


It’s amazing what can happen, when you add a simple bay platform!





March 20, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments