The Western Rail Link to Heathrow (WRLTH) aims to create a direct link to Heathrow for rail passegers coming in from the western side. At the moment, they have to head into Paddington then back out again. Apart from making journey times much faster for people using rail links from the west, it would reduce congestion on the trains out of Paddington.
The rail link would have left the mainline at Langley near Slough, then run through a new tunnel to the existing station at Terminal 5, where two pre-built platforms are ready to be used.
Although the rail link is classified as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, funding for it is dependent on contributions from Heathrow Airport and the aviation industry in general. With air travel in the doldrums at the moment, they are not in a position to stump up the money.
The DfT has now asked Network Rail to change the planned Development Consent Order (DCO) submission of the application from winter 2021 to a potential winter 2022 submission, subject to a funding agreement. The DCO is just the first stage of several that need to be cleared before construction can start.
Originally slated to be completed by 2021, the £900 million railway link is now not expected to start construction until 2024, if it gets permission to be built.