West London is one step closer to a new train line which will connect the outer boroughs and relieve pressure on existing transport infrastructure.

The proposed West London Orbital would run from Hendon or West Hampstead through Acton to Hounslow.

The line would make use of existing freight train routes through west London, and form part of the Overground network.

With planning still at an early stage, the line is not likely to open until 2026 – and the source of the £281m funding needed is yet to be confirmed.

But an initial report from Transport for London (TfL), released last month, found there was a strong business case for the project.

It would connect key business sites in west London, including the future HS2 and Crossrail interchange at Old Oak Common.

TfL's report suggests the West London Orbital line could help to support more than 20,000 new jobs.

The line would also open up land for housing development, allowing for up to 24,000 new homes across west London.

With an estimated 11.5m passengers annually, the train link would reduce pressure on existing transport options, including the North Circular road and the Piccadilly line.

The project is a collaboration between TfL, City Hall, and the West London Alliance, a grouping of Barnet, Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, and Hounslow Councils.

Onkar Sahota, London Assembly member for Ealing and Hillingdon, welcomed progress on the project, emphasising the “significant and urgent need” for new transport links in west London.

He said: “This is an ambitious scheme, so it is vital that TfL acts as swiftly as possible to attract the substantial amount of outside investment that the project needs.

“If the financial challenges can be met, the West London Orbital Line will play a vital part in unlocking sustainable growth along its route”.

John Cox, a Brent resident who has campaigned for the rail link, said progress was positive, but the project needed to cater to the long term needs of west London as the population grows.

He believes that as well as Overground trains, the new line should run longer distance services, which could directly connect commuters from Surrey, Bedfordshire or Cambridgeshire with west London.

Mr Cox said: “The idea of just trying to cope through an increase in road traffic is appalling.

“We have to maximise the resources we have for public transport and get people out of the private car – and one way to do that is to have new long distance public transport.”

TfL will now progress to a more detailed assessment of the project, including technical engineering challenges, funding options, and a public consultation.