§ 27. Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a progress report on the Piccadilly line extension to London (Heathrow) Airport.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Neil Carmichael)
The London Transport Executive plans to open the first stage from Hounslow West to Hatton Cross in July. The section from Hatton Cross to Heathrow Central is expected to be opened in the second half of 1977. Tunnelling work on this section is complete and track laying is about to start. Work is continuing on the construction of the station at Heathrow Central.
§ Mr. McNair-Wilson
Has the Minister given any thought to an express Underground service from Gloucester Road to London Airport? Does he think that passengers carrying their baggage will want to go into an Underground train that has to stop at every station?
§ Mr. Carmichael
That was naturally taken into consideration when the route was planned. The hon. Gentleman will realise that there would be great problems in running a regular express service along with an ordinary commuter service—unless he is proposing the building of a totally separate line.
§ Mr. Spearing
Would not my hon. Friend agree that whatever slight disadvantages there may be for air travellers, as distinct from those travelling by rail, this development will be generally welcomed in London? Does he recall that at first the plan by the Conservative administration allowed for extra charges on this line but that it was later decided to provide the sort of grant that was given for the Victoria Line? Is not that an improvement on policy?
§ Mr. Carmichael
When the service is running, certainly in the first few years, there should be a considerable improvement in traffic conditions on the M4. It was obviously because of the large volume of traffic travelling to Heathrow that a grant was ultimately made, and that is very important.