A railway line linking Reading to Heathrow will be delayed by up to two years.

The Great Western rail link will hook up Reading to Heathrow via Langley Train Station for people to travel directly to the airport.

An application to construct the new line was expected to be made this year but has now been delayed until winter 2021/2022.

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A spokesman for Network Rail said the Reading to Heathrow line has been delayed due to the court of appeal’s ruling against plans to expand Heathrow and the impact of Covid-19 on the aviation industry.

Councillor Tony Page, lead member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport at Reading Borough Council (RBC), said the project “should have been delivered years ago”.

While Reading East MP Matt Rodda said he is “concerned that the government seems to be watering down its commitment to the western rail link”.

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When the project is able to go ahead, a new tunnel will be created connecting Reading to Heathrow in around 20-30 minutes, with passengers from Reading currently having to use the 50-minute Rail Air bus or go into London to get to the airport.

Reading Station and Heathrow Airport both already have terminus platforms built for the line in anticipation of the scheme.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is looking to fund the project with help from Heathrow Airport on the basis of expansion, according to Cllr Page.

He said the case for the rail link was justified by the Davies Commission based on the existing airport and should not be part of the expansion debate but governments over the last ten years have “chosen to ignore that”.

Comparatively, he said the case for Heathrow expansion “is lifeless now” as “it will be years before we see air travel up to pre-pandemic levels”.

A spokesman for Network Rail said: “The Western Rail Link to Heathrow is a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project and planning permission can only be granted through a Development Consent Order (DCO).

“The DfT has been clear that whilst it fully supports the development of a Western Rail Link to Heathrow, this is subject to a satisfactory business case and the agreement of acceptable terms with the Heathrow aviation industry.

“In light of this, the DCO submission for Western Rail Link to Heathrow is now no longer expected to be made in 2020 but is anticipated to be submitted during Winter 2021/2022.

“During this time, the scheme’s environmental analysis will be updated to ensure it complies with new environmental regulations.”

Cllr Page said the delay is “probably the treasury putting on pressure to delay as many schemes as possible”.

He added: “Given the fact the rail industry is effectively renationalised, the treasury is in a strong position to say no to other projects.

“We will continue to lobby strongly for it and it remains one of Transport for the South East’s top projects.”

Mr Rodda added: “This is a really important link that would help Reading and the whole of the south of England.

“It is important local businesses and people travelling to the airport.

“I will be raising this with ministers and asking them to continue supporting the link.”