Network Rail has laid out its proposals for a new rail link to London Heathrow airport.
The future rail link, subject to planning permission, will allow passengers to travel from Reading, via Slough, to Heathrow airport via a direct train service. Currently, passengers wishing to access Heathrow by rail have to travel into London Paddington station before changing to dedicated airport services.
Network Rail met with MPs and other local stakeholders to discuss the detailed plans - known as the Western Rail Access Programme - that would provide significant economic benefits for the growing number of businesses in the Thames Valley, M4 corridor and south west E! ngland and south Wales.
Direct rail access to Heathrow from the west could deliver an increase in business productivity, quicker journeys to the country's busiest airports and a boost to economic growth.
Patrick Hallgate, Network Rail route managing director Western route said: "Our plans for a new rail link to Heathrow from the west will dramatically improving rail links, reduce congestion on existing rail services and provide a boost to the local economy. It's important that we take the opportunity to discuss these plans so we can ensure the investment made in a bigger, better railway delivers maximum benefit."
Ruth Bagley, chief executive of Slough Borough Council and TVBLEP lead for WRAtH, said: "This is excellent news for Slough, the Thames Valley and the country as a whole. Better access to Heathrow has long been a priority for the business community, Local Enterprise Partnerships a! nd air passengers, and this project will deliver significant benefits over a wide area.
"Studies show that improving access to Heathrow will stimulate growth, and could deliver over £2 billion in economic benefits, over 40,000 additional jobs, and significant environmental benefits. Faster and more reliable connections will safeguard the prosperity of the Thames Valley, by putting businesses in closer contact with their global markets.
"Giving passengers the opportunity to access Heathrow by train will support sustainable growth by reducing congestion on the road network and reducing the impacts of the airport on local communities."
Network Rail plans to engage with other interested parties and local authorities on the proposals during 2014 and beyond.