Criticism for Slough’s Heathrow rail link as British Airways warns Govt of “boosterism”

As the Slough Council backed Western Rail Link to Heathrow reaches a critical phase, British Airways has criticised the scheme for being “developed in isolation” and warned the Government about “boosterism”.

WRaTH stakeholders meet

The Western Rail Link to Heathrow (WRaTH) has been developed in isolation, British Airways has told MPs.

British Airways says it supports the view that a strategic assessment be made of future schemes to determine “the priority order which maximises customer and regional benefits”.  It warns that the range of surface access links currently planned may not meet the conditions necessary to offer a viable substitute to regional air service links to the Heathrow hub.

But it has also added its own voice to the local concern that priority calls need to be made with respect to competing projects, singling out the Langley HS2 depot relocation and western rail access for specific attention.

BA stresses the importance of improved public transport links to meet the EU air quality directive, noting that the number of ground vehicles travelling to and from the airport are “the most significant source of NOX emissions”, in contrast to Heathrow’s claims.

… improved surface access will be the key to getting approval for expansion and ability to enable timely use of this capacity

But the airline criticises the influence that certain groups are wielding over specific schemes that may not be in the wider interest:

“The government should be wary of “boosterism”, where local interest groups may have an incentive to talk up benefits without bearing responsibility for any business case shortfall.”

The comment appears to be a swipe at Slough Borough Council’s promotion of the Western Rail Link to Heathrow which rivals the Windsor Link Railway and has been “developed in isolation”.

BA has used the opportunity of a submission to a Transport Select Committee inquiry to lambast the policy of successive Governments for failings that include missed opportunities to improve links to Heathrow, and a lack of joined up thinking.

“Unfortunately government policy in this area, as with wider aviation policy, has failed to deliver integrated and affordable transport solutions. An obvious example is the choice of route for HS2 Phase 1, which by-passes Heathrow, the UK’s principal international gateway”.

BA’s submission to the committee’s inquiry into surface access to airports will give some comfort to those local groups, and most recently Iver Parish Council, which have called for a joined up approach to infrastructure projects competing to impose years of disruption on Colnbrook and surrounding areas.

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