THE boss of a firm which is preparing plans for a £1 billion Heathrow rail link has stressed that regional air travel would not be impacted if a direct link was established with Dorset.

Graham Cross, chief executive of Heathrow Southern Railway (HSRL), has pledged that three trains an hour could be running to Dorset by 2026 creating new opportunities for businesses and tourists.

However, he stressed that the proposal and the expansion of Heathrow would not impact on Bournemouth Airport which is currently used by more than 700,000 people a year.

He added: “All of the Dorset MPs voted to approve Heathrow expansion, however, Bournemouth is a vital major regional hub which still has opportunities to grow and thrive.

“Landing charges are an important factor because if you are an airline looking at operating flights from a UK airport, Heathrow currently has some of the most expensive charges in the country, however, Bournemouth would be much more affordable meaning airlines could choose to operate them their instead.

“This is why EasyJet doesn’t fly to Heathrow for example and instead they use Stansted because it is cheaper.

“I am sure that customers would still use Bournemouth Airport but if you are making a shorter journey for a weekend away or to a shorter holiday destination while Heathrow for more transatlantic destinations.”

Under Heathrow Southern Railway’s proposals, an independent venture set up to build

the rail link, the new route could see trains from Woking head directly to Heathrow Airport

from the South Western Mainline which runs between London Waterloo and Weymouth.

Mr Cross added: “The line will provide a direct connection to the Wessex region which will benefit the whole of the South East and Dorset providing new business opportunities and boost tourism."

Figures released by the Department for Transport show that Bournemouth Airport could be down 1,590 flights a year by 2030 once the Heathrow runway is built.

Justine Greening, who presented the figures to Parliament earlier this year, said:

“Heathrow is not a monopoly but it has a monopolistic impact, it cannibalises routes which would have gone to regional airports, and Bournemouth will obviously be really badly hit.”

She said the direct cost of Heathrow expansion could be as much as £18 billion, making

the airport so expensive that flights from regional airports would not be viable.

Bournemouth Airport declined to comment.