25 MAY 2020


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Article from BTNews 25 MAY 2020

Airports and rail use

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR), whose Chairman is Declan Collier, the former Chief Executive of London City Airport, has issued estimates of station usage. The clear trend is towards using trains more and more to and from airports writes our railway expert Andrew Sharp.

For the 11 train stations serving airports for which data is available, usage has almost doubled between 2006/7 and 2017/8 – from 25.6m to 50.8m.

Gatwick Airport saw the largest increase in passenger numbers – 21.2m (compared with 11.9m in 2006/7).  This was 42% of total using airport stations.  Stansted is second with 9.8m – up from 5.4m (and up 9% on the previous year’s 8.9m).  Manchester Airport is similar, with the branch line moving 5.7m (just under 2m in 2006/7).

Birmingham International was used by just short of 7m passengers (up from 2.4m in 2006/7) but the proximity of NEC means that many users were going to or from the exhibition centre.  Luton Airport saw 4.1m (2.4m in 2006/7) and Southampton 1.7m (from 1.3m in 2006/7).  When Luton Airport Parkway is joined to the airport with the DART transit system sometime next year the numbers are expected to increase dramatically.

Just over 40% of Heathrow’s 70m passengers used public transport to get to/from the airport last year (including all rail, bus and coach). About 10% (over 6m) take Heathrow Express.

No firm figures are available but London City Airport station on the DLR is estimated to have been used by about half of its 5.1m passengers in 2019.


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All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

Andrew Sharp, ST. ALBANS

Yes, they are ‘all users of Birmingham International Station’ measured by entries and exits. This includes visitors to the NEC, people from the east side of Birmingham who drive and park at International station and yes, local workforce and meeters and greeters. The International Passenger Survey is just that – a survey of International passengers. CAA data are likely to be more helpful, because they ask a random sample of departing air passengers (international and domestic) for mode of travel to the airport. CAA say that 19.2% of departing air passengers used rail in 2018. That year, the airport saw 12.445m passengers: making the slightly dubious assumption that the same percentage of inbound passengers used rail, that makes 2.39m air passengers using rail (compared with a total passenger count of 7m). So crudely a third of passengers using Birmingham International Station are air passengers.

David Starkie, London

Andrew: I presume these figures, as mentioned for Birmingham, include anyone using the station (local workforce, meeters and greeters etc). Would the International Passenger Survey provide more accurate figures for air passengers?

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