28 JANUARY 2019


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Article from BTNews 28 JANUARY 2019

Airport railway 'wake-up call'

New figures showing the proportion of passengers using public transport to reach Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton has declined over the past few years (BTN last week) have been branded a wake-up call by a rail lobby.

The warning came from the chief executive of Heathrow Southern Railway Ltd (HSRL), an independent venture seeking to establish a new link to Britain’s busiest airport.

Graham Cross said: “The declining percentage of people using public transport to reach Heathrow shows the urgent need for a southern rail link from south-west London, Surrey and Hampshire to reverse this alarming trend.

“This is especially important given the levels of road congestion around the existing two-runway Heathrow, which are bound to increase further as a result of the planned expansion unless rail connections are enhanced.”

Cross said after two years’ work with investor AECOM and key advisers, HSRL “has a well-developed scheme with wide public support” to offer new direct rail services from south-west London, Surrey and Hampshire.

He added: “To maintain momentum on scheme development, we need the Department for Transport to move quickly to start a process resulting in the identification of a preferred developer.”

Heathrow has said it supports plans for a southern rail access but “we’re not yet picking a winner from the various options”.


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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

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Graham French,

Maybe not as odd as it seems. CAA passenger data show growth in total passengers between 2012 and 2017 as 33% at Gatwick, 49% at Stansted, 67% at Luton and 83% at Southend. A similar growth in total air passengers and rail passengers will mean the proportion of rail users stays roughly the same. Also the figures in the BTN report were for public transport, so any switch from bus/coach to rail will not change the proportion of passengers travelling by public transport.

Andrew Sharp, Surbiton

Intriguing. According to ORR station usage statistics (which cover financial years), use of airport rail stations between 2012/3 and 2017/8 has increased massively - 32% at Gatwick, 38% at Southend, 59% at Luton and 142% at Stansted (data are not given for the Heathrow stations). OK, these are for all rail users and not just departing air passengers. But they do look odd by comparison with CAA's figures.