A new rail route linking Heathrow with London Waterloo, via Hounslow, is a real possibility according to fresh proposals.
The route would stretch from the existing Waterloo-Windsor line to Terminal 5 at the airport, via a new station in Bedfont , with trains running on an elevated track through Bedfont.
There would be two trains an hour between Feltham and T5, with that journey taking around 13 minutes.
Passengers leaving from Waterloo could be at the airport in 43 minutes, if travelling via Richmond, and 56 minutes via Hounslow.
Those are the recommendations of a report commissioned by Hounslow Council , which suggests the link is a 'feasible' project and the new station represents 'very high value for money'.
The report by consultants at WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff estimates the total cost of the project as between £894m and £936m.
"This would help reduce congestion and pollution on the local road network"
The proposals are due to go before cabinet members on Tuesday, January 19, who will decide whether the council should lobby the Department for Transport, Network Rail and Heathrow to consider the scheme.
Deputy council leader Amrit Mann, who is recommending they do just that, wrote: "The council has for many years supported the principle of improved rail access to Heathrow from the 'Windsor lines' that lie to the south of the airport. As a proposal this is generally referred to by the industry as 'southern rail access'.
"A direct rail link from both London Waterloo and Surrey/south west England has the opportunity to reduce the number of trips made to the airport by both passengers and employees by car. This would help reduce congestion and pollution on the local road network."
It is not the first time such a route has been advocated, in various guises.
In 2009, the then owner of Heathrow, BAA, submitted plans for a scheme known as Airtrack, but they were scuppered by concerns over traffic and the environmental impact.
Two years later, Wandsworth Council revealed revised proposals, called Airtrack-Lite but these have also fallen by the wayside.
Mixed reaction to the proposals
A survey by Hounslow Council last year showed 54% of respondents supported proposals to improve public access to Heathrow from the south.
Plans for a new station in Bedfont, however, proved more divisive, with 53% of those expressing an opinion in favour and 47% against.
The council said the majority of those opposed were residents of Wooldridge Court, which would face demolition to make way for the station.
It said the report was welcomed by a number of organisations, including West London Business, which the council said supported the proposed link.
The proposal also had the backing of Wandsworth Council, Hounslow Council said, provided current capacity on the route to Waterloo could be retained.
Transport for London (TfL) too raised concerns about how existing capacity would be affected. It also questioned the need for a new station at Bedfont, which it said was 'sub-optimal' for Heathrow passengers.
Spelthorne Borough Council, Runnymede Borough Council and Surrey County Council all reserved their judgment, the council said, while Heathrow recommended the proposal be taken forward.
Heathrow mentioned the possibility of southern rail links to the airport in its case for a third runway, though the scheme is not necessarily dependant on a new runway being built.
The new rail links and Bedfont station are part of the council's vision for a Heathrow Garden City in Bedfont.