The planned £500million rail link from Heathrow to south Wales will be a key driver of economic growth, said Welsh Secretary, David Jones during a visit to Heathrow’s new Terminal 2 ahead of his trip to Singapore.
In July last year, the UK Government outlined its commitment to the Western Rail Access scheme - a new rail link to Heathrow which will cut 30 minutes off the journey time from south Wales and the west of England. The investment will mean that South Wales will be linked to the UK air hub for the first time.
Mr Jones highlighted the crucial role that this new infrastructure development will have to play in the growth of the Welsh economy during a tour of the airport’s new Terminal 2: The Queen’s Terminal, ahead of his departure on an official UK Government visit to Singapore and Indonesia.
Terminal 2: The Queen’s Terminal, is the next major step in the transformation of Heathrow, and will continue the progress the airport has made in recent years with the opening of Terminal 5 and the refurbishment of Terminals 1, 3 and 4. It is one of the largest privately funded construction projects in the UK and, by the time Terminal 2 officially opens in June 2014, it will have generated £2.5 billion for the UK economy - supporting 35,000 jobs and more than 140 businesses.
Secretary of State for Wales, David Jones said:
Wales, like the rest of the country, benefits from access to the UK’s excellent aviation networks. Heathrow plays a vital role in this, and I was delighted to have the opportunity to see the very latest developments taking place at this important economic hub.
Fast and convenient links to our major airports are crucial as we look to compete in the global race. This Government is determined to improve the ability for passengers to access Heathrow and has committed to take forward the Western Rail Access scheme. This will allow direct rail access into Heathrow from south Wales and further enhance Wales’s ability to benefit from the economic opportunities Heathrow creates.
Connecting south Wales to the UK’s main air hub is a vital component for Welsh businesses. Moreover, it will make Wales itself a more attractive destination for businesses looking to invest in the UK.
Colin Matthews, CEO for Heathrow, said:
1.3 million people have jobs with a foreign-owned firm which are facilitated by travelling through Heathrow. 8.8% of those live in Wales, the highest proportion in the UK. The benefits of the Wales-Heathrow link are set to improve further with Western Rail access, which will offer direct access for businesses to the hub and ensure the whole nation benefits from the growth opportunities brought by global connectivity.
Neath based Express Reinforcements Ltd (ERL) is one of the companies involved in the supply chain of the Terminal 2 project. Working as part of an integrated team, the steel specialists successfully delivered over 30,000 tonnes of steel reinforcement products to the project. ERL, whose parent company Celsa Manufacturing is based in Cardiff, was also involved in the construction process of Heathrow Terminal 5.
Conwy based EvadX were also selected by Siemens to undertake a contract for the installation of approximately 700 tonnes of steel to support the Baggage Handling System in the new Terminal. Added to this package we also installed the Mezzanine Floor, Handrails and in excess of 100 staircases for the Arrivals and Departure areas of the new Terminal.
Before departing Singapore, Mr Jones met AirAsia’s Chief Executive Officer, Alieen Omar at Changi Airport. The low-cost airline recently signed a contract with Airbus for 100 more aircraft from the A320 family. Mr Jones was able to see one of the A320’s and talk about the importance of Welsh exports before flying on Welsh Airbus wings to Indonesia.
Secretary of State for Wales, David Jones added:
The aviation sector contributes around £18 billion of economic output to the UK economy per year. It employs around 220,000 workers directly and supports many more through its supply chains. This Government will continue to back UK aerospace; cutting business taxes, investing in exports and working in partnership with the industry to ensure it is fully equipped to compete and thrive in the global race.
Notes to Editors
The Secretary of State for Wales is representing the UK Government on the visit to Singapore and Bali (5-7 November).
The visit to Singapore comes in the month following the Secretary of State’s visit to the Airbus headquarters in Toulouse where he saw the Welsh wings of the A380 and A350 XWB aircraft arrive at the final assembly line.
During that visit, Mr Jones also announced the launch of the second round of bidding for the £40million industry and government funded National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP). This programme will help take 100 undeveloped supply chain based technologies to market to ensure that the UK can continue to maintain its position at the forefront of the sector globally.