Slough’s MP has challenged a government minister to provide updates on a proposed rail link between Slough and Heathrow Airport.

Labour’s Tan Dhesi asked rail minister Huw Merriman for news on the Western Rail Link plans, which would connect the town to Heathrow with a route leaving the Great Western Mainline between Langley and Iver.

However, the project was put on a “controlled pause” in 2021 because of the Covid pandemic’s impact on the aviation industry.

Mr Dhesi said: “You will be aware, Mr Speaker, that I have long championed a Western Rail Link to Heathrow, which would connect 20 per cent of the UK population to within one interchange of our nation’s main airport.

“The government committed to it over a decade ago, yet not a single spade has dug into the ground. Sadly, the government have more of a reputation for cancelling rail links than for building them.

“Perhaps the rail minister, who kindly met me recently about the issue, will have better news for us today.

“What meetings has he had with Heathrow Airport, Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce and other stakeholders to progress this vital four-mile rail link between Slough and Heathrow?”

The project, which was put forward by the government in 2012, would allow passengers travelling from the South Coast, South West, South Wales and the West Midlands to travel to Heathrow without going into London Paddington.

The 6.5 kilometre link would see trains pass through a tunnel after leaving the Main Line to connect with existing stations at Heathrow Terminal 5.

Responding to Mr Dhesi, the rail minister said: “This particular project was due to be funded 50:50, but things have changed post pandemic for Heathrow, so it is right that it goes back to the drawing board.

“We will always support rail investments that can be paid for by private enterprise. That is what our Network North project is all about.”