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Images revealed: Proposed HS4Air will create new transport hubs boosting regional economies and slash journey times beyond London

Images revealed: Proposed HS4Air will create new transport hubs boosting regional economies and slash journey times beyond London

Nick McGough

Nick's extensive transport experience ranges across rail, aviation and bridge projects at all stages, from feasibility studies and concept design to detailed design, construction information and site support for both clients and contractors.

A new image has been revealed for HS4Air, the proposal for a new high-speed railway around London that passes via both Gatwick and Heathrow Airports. The proposal will be submitted to the Department for Transport in response to a call for ideas within the rail sector. The proposal will also have an important role for stimulating much-needed new housing developments in the South East over the coming decades.

HS4Air has been developed by London-based Expedition Engineering together with architects Weston Williamson + Partners (WW+P) and planning and development consultants Turley.

The proposed new railway, estimated to cost £10bn, is proposed to connect HS1 at Ashford to HS2 North West of London via Heathrow and Gatwick airports with a spur connection to the Great Western Main Line.  Dubbed the “M25 for high-speed trains”, HS4Air would allow train journey times to be slashed from the UK’s two most important airports together with their hinterlands in South East England to the Midlands, North England and South Wales.

HS4Air will reduce journey times as follows:

  • Ashford to Gatwick: 25 minutes (typically 1 hour 50 mins today)
  • Manchester to Heathrow: 1 hour 10 mins (typically 3 hours 20 mins today)
  • Heathrow to Gatwick: 15 minutes 
  • Cardiff to Heathrow: 1 hour 40 mins (typically 2 hours 50 mins today)
  • Birmingham to Paris:  3 hours (typically 3 hours 50 minutes by air)

Four new stations along HS4Air at Ashford, Tonbridge, Gatwick and Heathrow will provide important new points of transport connectivity to the rest of the UK beyond London. Both Heathrow and Gatwick airports will become multi-modal regional transport hubs with many passengers using these stations even if they are not catching a plane. The new connectivity created by the proposed high-speed line and the transport hubs along it are expected to act as a boost for regional economies from South East England to northern England.

HS4Air will remove London as the historic barrier for railway connectivity between UK regions North and West of London and continental Europe. By providing a fast “bypass” rail route around London, fast direct passenger and freight trains from the Midlands and North England to Europe can be made. City centre to city centre journey times from both Birmingham and Manchester to Paris will be faster using HS4Air than travelling by air. As a result, HS4Air will become a catalyst for economic activity between the UK regions and Europe.  

By taking the people and freight out of London that does not need or want to pass through the congested metropolis, HS4Air is expected to release capacity on the London rail network back for use by the intra-London market.      

WW+P associate partner Nick McGough said:

“HS4Air takes the problem of linking HS1 with HS2 and turns it into an opportunity in by-passing London entirely whilst better connecting the UK’s two largest airports and the country generally through high speed rail. This generates huge regeneration potential and much wider economic benefits for the whole country.

It is exciting that the DfT’s Rail Market Led Proposal initiative opens the door for this sort of innovative proposal. HS4Air can help unlock opportunities for much needed housing in the South East through joined-up and sustainable infrastructure development.”

Nick McGough

Nick's extensive transport experience ranges across rail, aviation and bridge projects at all stages, from feasibility studies and concept design to detailed design, construction information and site support for both clients and contractors.

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