A RAIL firm has announced radical plans to link High Wycombe to Heathrow Airport and restore the old line to Maidenhead.

The £500m project, which Windsor Link Railway Company aims to begin by 2013, would be privately funded.

The company proposes to build a new 'Wycombe Parkway' station in Loudwater, with more stops along the old line at Wycombe Marsh, Wooburn and Bourne End.

It admits houses built on or near the old route will be “problematic” but it will also consider a route to cross the motorway further to the west.

George Bathurst, the man behind the plans, said: “The main motivation is to make the region a better place to live and work.

“We believe we have a strong business case and several big firms, including HSBC, have already expressed an interest.”

He is in talks with architects and hopes to submit plans for the project and secure planning permission from the Secretary of State next year.

After Maidenhead the line would go through Slough and Windsor before reaching Heathrow Airport.

The company intends to have train services running from Heathrow to Windsor by 2013 and complete the line to High Wycombe by 2016.

Mr Bathurst said the case for the project is strengthened by the last government census, in 2000, which counted 280,000 car journeys per week between High Wycombe and Maidenhead.

The Cleaner Driving report, published in October, said drivers waste 370,000 hours waiting in traffic on the A404 each year – making it the second worst road for jams in Britain.

But The Wycombe Society has indicated it would not back the project because it would prefer smaller “light” trains in the mould of the Docklands Light Railway.

The society has been promoting the idea of reestablishing the rail link between High Wycombe and Maidenhead since 1994 (See link below).

Transport spokesman Dr Elsa Woodward said: “It's ridiculous there isn't a line between the two towns but we wouldn't favour this plan because it wouldn't bring the best returns in terms of saving on energy and land.”

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “Network Rail has been approached by the Windsor Rail Link Company to discuss its proposals and some preliminary meetings have taken place looking only at the high level concept.

We have not had any detailed discussions about the cost, technical and operational feasibility of the scheme.”