Letter: Western rail link to avoid Heathrow chaos

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The Independent Online
Sir: Following, first, the tunnel collapse and then the subsequent building collapse at Heathrow this morning ('Landslips threaten Heathrow offices', 24 October), it was odd to hear the British Airport Authorities requesting that travellers use public transport.

The construction of the tunnel is in connection with a further public transport link, this time to Paddington, but like the fairly recent Tube links, it aims to serve central London. Having experienced delays in reaching Heathrow this morning, such a link will not provide an attractive alternative for myself or anyone coming from the numerous towns to the south and west of London. This is especially so if one has much luggage, or is travelling with old or young persons.

A much better alternative would be to link the new line westwards towards Slough and Reading with direct links from these and other major towns in the West Country. Park-and-ride and set down/pick up facilities could be provided adjacent to the M4. Better still would be the provision of a further link to the south of Heathrow to connect to the rail line at Ashford.

According to my map, merry-go- round trains couid link Heathrow-Ashford-Datchet-Slough and back to Heathrow with park and ride next to the M4, M23 and M3. Direct links could also be provided to Woking and then to Southampton, Portsmouth, Salisbury and beyond.

Of course, in the long term, we need to consider our dependence on all forms of travel for both business and leisure, but some things, such as my having relatives from abroad, cannot be substituted by video-phones.

Yours faithfully, A. E. COOPER Andover, Hampshire 23 October (Photograph omitted)