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Weston Williamson blasts government for rejecting ‘M25 for trains’ proposal

Ww hs4air cgi
  • 2 Comments

The architect behind a rejected £10 billion proposal linking High Speed 1 (HS1) with High Speed 2 (HS2) via Gatwick and Heathrow airports has hit out at the government after it branded the plans too complicated

Last month the Department for Transport said it would not be considering the proposed 140km route, designed by transport specialist Weston Williamson + Partners and  Expedition Engineering, which they put forward following the government’s call for market-led rail ideas earlier this year.

Dubbed HS4Air and likened to an M25 for high-speed trains, the new line would have started at Ashford in Kent and run south of London via the two airports before connecting to the Great Western Mainline and HS2 north of Heathrow.

But a rejection letter from the department described the plans as too ‘complex [with] a number of high-cost and high-risk delivery challenges’.

Weston Williamson associate partner Nick McGough hit out at the decision, questioning why the UK government found it ’so difficult to think big and plan properly’.

‘HS4Air is an exciting idea … which deserves serious consideration and evaluation,’ he said. ‘And if the project could be delivered without the use of taxpayer money, why would the department not want to know how this might be achieved?

’Their reaction is symptomatic of the UK government’s inability to take a longer-term view, set against the backdrop of Crossrail delays, HS2 controversy and the Northern Line Extension delay.’

McGough said the team would be challenging the department’s response and ‘seeking further clarity on why they do not feel they should engage further’.

He added: ‘As the UK heads toward a new relationship with our neighbours, now, more than ever, smarter and more joined-up infrastructure planning is required.”

Hs4air rail diagram 1

According to the team, the proposed line would have slashed journey times between Heathrow and Gatwick from around 1 hour 45 minutes to just 15 minutes.

As part of the proposals, four new stations would have been built along the route at Ashford, Tonbridge, Gatwick and Heathrow.

The government launched its call for market-led proposals in March last year under new proposals to try and increase the amount of third-party investment in rail. At the time of the launch, the department said the public sector did not have a ‘monopoly on good ideas’ and wanted to provide a sustainable future for the rail sector.  

  • 2 Comments

Readers' comments (2)

  • Maybe the Westminster government fears that to show any interest whatsoever in this - with its provision for trains to Europe from the Midlands & North of England - would further encourage the more rabid Brexiteers to open insurrection.

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  • MacKenzie Architects

    It is Primary 1 logic to link Heathrow and Gatwick with a non-nonsense bullet train, just in terms of their own viability as UK Hub.

    It is also primary logic to assume that if you get on a fast train at Manchester after £70 billion + has been spent, that you should be able to stay on that train all the way to mainland Europe ...
    We've never had a strategic transport plan in this country, too many politicians out of their depth.
    Sounds like the government apparatus didn't actually want any market-led rail ideas after all.


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