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MP 'delighted' with Government's £500m Heathrow rail pledge

Published: 12 Jul 2012 13:059 comments

READING East MP, Rob Wilson, has said he is "delighted" with the Government's £500m pledge for a western rail link to Heathrow.

Rail link: (left to right) Patrick Hallgate (Network Rail western route managing director), Reading East MP Rob Wilson, Transport secretary Justine Greening and Matthew Golton (First Great Western projects and planning director) at the parliamentary reception organised by the Tory MP in November

READING East MP, Rob Wilson, has said he is "delighted" with the Government's £500m pledge for a western rail link to Heathrow.

The Tory MP has been campaigning for a direct rail service linking Reading with the airport and today the Department for Transport said it has earmarked money for the project.

Transport Secretary Justine Greening praised Mr Wilson for his efforts, and added: "Rob has done a brilliant job of making the case for Western rail access to Heathrow from the first day I was appointed Transport Secretary and I am delighted the Government has been able to give the go ahead to this scheme.

"It will benefit huge numbers of people travelling to our hub airport and I congratulate Rob on his successful campaign."

The Government said the service could be up and running as early as 2021 "subject to a business case and conclusion of agreements with the aviation industry".

The DfE has not released details on journey times, frequency of trains and which stations would be serviced by the link but told The Chronicle Reading is being looked at as an option.

The Chronicle understands that the Government wants Reading Station to be the main hub for the service.

Ms Greening said it will slash journey times from the west of Engalnd and Wales by up to half an hour.

Mr Wilson - who in November hosted a parliamentary reception for key stakeholders including Network Rail on the project with Ms Greening as guest speaker - said the lack of a direct rail route from Reading to Heathrow costs businesses £10m-a-year and that it has "blunted the commercial competitiveness" of the area.

He said: "I am delighted at the excellent news that the Government has backed proposals for a western rail link to Heathrow.

"The fact that £500m has been allocated for this strategic addition to our transport infrastructure will cement Reading's pre-eminent position as a transport hub and a fantastic place to do business. It will also end any thoughts that important businesses have of leaving the area.

"The work all of our partners put into this project has paid off and I am glad I was able to bring the companies and officials together.

"We've been working on this for over a year and thanks to the Transport Secretary and the Chancellor seeing the very clear benefits of the scheme, Reading will become far more accessible to business regionally, nationally and now internationally too."

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