Page last updated at 17:21 GMT, Friday, 24 July 2009 18:21 UK

Airlink application lodged by BAA

Heathrow Terminal 5
Airtrack will link Surrey and Berkshire towns to Heathrow Terminal 5

A formal application has been submitted to the government for a rail link between Heathrow Airport and stations in Berkshire and Surrey.

Heathrow operator BAA is seeking permission to build, operate and maintain the new Airtrack line.

Airtrack will connect Heathrow's Terminal 5 to London Waterloo, Reading and Guildford. Some Heathrow Express services will be extended to Staines.

Spelthorne MP David Wilshire said it was good for travellers and residents.

Two rounds of public consultation were held last year.

Residents and two local councils, Richmond and Runnymede, expressed concerns about longer waiting times for road traffic at level crossings along the route.

A few problems remain to be solved including redesigning the level crossings south of the Thames
David Wilshire

They said additional rail services would increase waiting times at Egham, Addlestone, Barnes, Mortlake and North Sheen.

BAA said following the objections more work was being done with local authorities, Network Rail and the highway authorities to look for solutions at level crossings.

It said designs for the proposed depot at Feltham would limit light and noise pollution and include landscape screening.

It promised to cause as little disruption as possible to residents and businesses in Staines town centre, but Egham Chamber of Commerce said it was not reassured.

"The railway line cuts the town in two and it has no bridges or tunnels," said spokeswoman Meher Oliaji.

"We have four level crossings and they are planning to put 16 trains an hour instead of eight on the line.

"We will just have more traffic jams. They will have to budget for giving us some way to cross this railway line."

Hard work

Mr Wilshire said: "Getting the Airtrack project to the point where a formal application can be made has taken a long time and a great amount of hard work and lots of negotiations.

"A few problems remain to be solved - including redesigning the level crossings south of the Thames.

"Hopefully BAA will be able to come up with solutions that we will be able to accept."

BAA's plans are on display at local libraries. Comments must be submitted to the Secretary of State for Transport within 56 days.

A decision will then be made on whether a public inquiry should be held, which is likely to be at the beginning of 2010.

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