Could a new rail link be the ‘shovel ready’ project to help Britain’s economic recovery?

10th July 2020

Blake Morgan Construction and Development partner Richard Wade has written a piece looking at a proposed rail link from the west of Britain to Heathrow.

This article was first published in Business Matters Magazine on 7 July.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week promised to “build, build, build” by injecting billions into public projects to ease the UK through the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

He used a keynote speech in the West Midlands to say he wants to follow in the footsteps of American president Franklin D Roosevelt, who led the US out of the Great Depression in the 1930s.

In the speech, he announced the Government intends to spend £5 billion to “accelerate infrastructure projects”. So far, so headline-grabbing. But scratch the surface and an immediate problem presents itself.

In Government spending terms, £5 billion can be considered small change. With some £1.5 billion allocated to hospital maintenance, more than £1 billion to a 10-year school rebuilding programme, and £100 million on road projects, that leaves only £900 million for what the Prime Minister called “shovel-ready” projects in England.


One project I believe has the potential to pay significant dividends (and provide a key component of the UK’s infrastructure) is the proposed Western Link Railway to Heathrow (or WLRtH), a new 6.5km link between the Great Western Main Line and London Heathrow Airport.

The proposed rail connection would speed up journeys to Britain’s busiest international airport, by allowing passengers to travel to the airport from the South Coast, South West, South Wales and West Midlands (not to mention the ‘engine room’ of the Oxford-Cambridge ‘innovation arc’) without having to travel to central London and back out again.

Read the article in full here.

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