THE Mawhinney Review has recommended that a 'Heathrow Hub' would be too costly for the Government to pursue- but the Department of Transport have not ruled it out just yet.
A series of public meetings in West Drayton are currently ongoing on what a hub at Iver would mean for the area, but former transport secretary Lord Brian Mawhinney has recommended a 'superhub' be built at Old Oak Common instead.
Lord Mawhinney's review- to assess how Heathrow Airport be incorporated into the proposed high speed rail network- was commissioned by outgoing Labour transport secretary Lord Adonis in March.
Since then, a change of Government, and new transport secretary Phillip Hammond (Con), have also requested that company HS2 Ltd investigate the possibility of linking to Heathrow. The Conservatives have always been advocates of a hub at Heathrow.
The Mawhinney Report recommended that Heathrow should have a direct high speed rail link, but only after links to the north of England have been constructed and are up and running.
Lord Mawhinney said: "I have concluded that, in the early stages of a high speed rail network, there is no compelling case for a direct rail link to Heathrow, and that a London-Old Oak Common interchange could provide an appropriate, good quality terminus and connection point to the airport."
Hammersmith and Fulham Council, the local authority for Old Oak Common, are in favour of the hub being placed there, and the economic prospects it could bring to the area.
Lord Mawhinney added that financial issues will also count against a hub being placed at Heathrow.
"In light of this conclusion, it is clear that changing the route of the main high speed line to run via Heathrow, at an additional cost of £2 billion to £4 billion, would connect Heathrow to HS2 at a point in time when this connection is not likely to represent value for money to the tax payer or the train operator. I recommend that this route should not be pursued."
The Department of Transport are carrying out their own research, and indicated they were not totally convinced by Lord Mawhinney's findings, a report they did not themselves commission.
Responding to the report, transport secretary Phillip Hammond said: "I am extremely grateful to Lord Mawhinney for carrying out this review of the options for high-speed rail access to Heathrow. I want to thank Lord Mawhinney and his team for completing this work in the space of a few short weeks.
"High Speed 2 Ltd are also doing some detailed work in this area, which will take more time to complete. We will therefore carefully consider Lord Mawhinney's recommendations alongside this further work by High Speed 2 and will announce our conclusions later this year."
Arup, the company behind the Heathrow Hub plans said today: "Arup is disappointed that Lord Mawhinney’s report does not support our proposal to directly align high speed rail to Heathrow airport, which was adopted as Conservative Party policy only last year.
"The subject of high speed rail alignment remains a vital area of debate for the Government and we look forward to hearing the views of the Secretary of State for Transport, Philip Hammond.
"We remain committed to our vision of a direct high speed rail link to Heathrow, which we strongly believe has many advantages. It will enable a transport modal shift, create links with High Speed 1, create the potential for engaging strong private sector funding for a Heathrow hub and bring direct benefit to a broad geographic area."
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To read a report on last night's public meeting in West Drayton on the Heathrow Hub, visit http://westdrayton.uxbridgegazette.co.uk