Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has ruled out building a link between HS2 and the UK’s busiest airport, Heathrow, before 2033.
Heated debate around HS2 in the South East had included speculation over whether it would be connected to HS1 - which links London to the continent via the Channel Tunnel - and Heathrow. It appears both options are now off the agenda.
In a written response to a question from Dominic Grieve MP for Beaconsfield, Mr McLoughlin ended speculation on the proposed Heathrow spur this week.
‘I am aware that the proposed Heathrow spur causes great concern to local residents. I would now like to make clear that we do not intend to build the spur as part of Phase 1 or 2 of the HS2 scheme,’ the secretary said.
Phase 1 of the £50bn HS2 project runs from London to the West Midlands and is targeted to be complete by 2026 and Phase 2 extending the line to Manchester and Leeds is due to be finished in 2033.
Mr McLoughlin said: ‘In November 2014, the Airports Commission published a high-level review of the implications of a HS2 spur on surface access to Heathrow Airport, as part of the supporting technical documents for their public consultation on the three short-listed schemes for airport expansion. This review indicated that an HS2 spur is highly unlikely to be necessary to support any expansion of Heathrow airport.’
Sir David Higgins, HS2 Ltd chairman, also suggested in a report last March that the £700m cost of linking to HS1 may not be good value for money and described it as an ‘imperfect compromise’.
He asked the Government to consider ‘whether it is good value or whether it would be better to consider an alternative, which would deliver the benefits of a link without compromising existing services’, seemingly ending debate over a HS2 and HS1 link.
The Airports Commission is due to deliver a final report after the election that will draw conclusions on three options for additional runway capacity, two at Heathrow and one at Gatwick.
Nick Hurd, MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, Tweeted: ‘If HS2 happens, the best way of connecting passengers to Heathrow is through Old Oak Common. Spur was wrong idea and caused unfair blight.’
'Credit to ministers for listening to our argument,' he added.