High-speed rail would stop Heathrow 'choking on its own congestion'
Transport 2000 report advocates high-speed rail link.
A high-speed rail line from London to the North and Europe could rule out the need for the planned Third Runway at Heathrow and stop the airport choking on its own congestion, according to a new report.
Fog on the Runway, published by Transport 2000 and written by independent consultant Jim Steer, says that plans for a Third Runway at Heathrow have overlooked the potential of High Speed Rail to meet travel demand.
Flights at Heathrow are expected to rise significantly if a Third Runway is built, with flight numbers projected to increase by 27% against a backdrop of a projected trebling of air passengers in the UK by 2030.
The report concludes that High Speed Rail could do the job of a Third Runway at Heathrow and meet travel needs more efficiently and with less environmental impact.
The report suggests:
* The number of passengers that could be served by High Speed Rail in the place of short-haul airlines would be of a similar order of magnitude to the expected increase in passenger throughput from a Third Runway at Heathrow.
* A wider set of rail connections is needed to meet future air quality standards currently threatened by the proposed Third Runway.
* High Speed Rail links from Heathrow to the North and Europe are needed to help the UK compete with other European countries. High Speed Rail already plays an important transport role across mainland Europe. Paris CDG, Frankfurt and Schiphol airports have direct links into High Speed Rail networks, increasing their economic potential by transforming themselves into transport hubs.
* An urgent examination of the options to create additional capacity at Heathrow is required before plans for the Third Runway advance any further.
By connecting the airport to a High Speed Rail network and turning the airport into a transport hub, new rail links would give the Midlands, the North, Scotland and the near Continent fast, direct and reliable journeys to the airport and do so with less environmental impact than air transport.
Jason Torrance, Campaigns Director of Transport 2000, said: "High Speed Rail could provide a real alternative to short haul flights, an alternative that comes with a much smaller environmental price tag.
"The Government should scrap plans for the Third Runway at Heathrow and put in place a timetable to examine the case for High Speed Rail."
Lord Whitty, former Government Minister, who provided the foreword for the report, said: "The planned Third Runway at Heathrow would involve significant demolition and threatens to break statutory limits in terms of air quality and noise.
"This report suggests that using High Speed Rail could promote competitiveness while safeguarding the environment.