You don’t have to wait long before a story about London’s airports comes about. Today, there’s story about a protest from the people of Kent about the Mayor of London’s support for an airport in the Thames Estuary.
They protestors actually recommend the following ideas.
- A high speed rail link between Gatwick and Heathrow.
- Improved rail connections to other regional airports.
- A second runway at Gatwick after 2019.
- Development of other regional airports, like Manston and Lydd.
This I suppose is something as usually protestors are very negative.
I should say that although, I don’t do it now, I’ve flown many times over Kent in a light aircraft and it is actually surprising how much green space there is. Now, I’m not saying we concrete it all over, but how many of those who fought the Channel Tunnel Rail Link or the M2 and M20, ten or so years ago, are still fighting them. I think this shows, that if you build rail and road links sympathetically, you actually get people on your side, as they are the ones that often benefit most from the new links.
So let’s look at their proposals in turn.
1. The Gatwick to Heathrow Rail Link
Heathrow is supposed to be on a spur to the new HS2 line from London to Birmingham. But why can’t the spur go right under Heathrow and on to Gatwick? Thoughts on the subject by civil servants are here in the Telegraph.
Thinking even more radically, you might even start HS2 at some point on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and then it could encircle London to the South West with stations at Gatwick, Woking and Heathrow.
One of the great advantages of a Gatwick to Heathrow link is that you separate London bound passengers from those, who are not going to the capital or even taking a connecting flight.
2. Improved Connections to Other Regional Airports
Once we have completed Thameslink and Crossrail, a lot of this will have been established. Journeys between airports like Gatwick and Luton, Heathrow and Southend will be no changes or just one. Even Gatwick to Heathrow will only be one change at Farringdon station.
In fact, will these two modern railways, with big trains revolutionise the way people travel through London.
Imagine, you are a businessman travelling from say San Francisco to Qatar. American Airlines seems to book you via London, where you change planes. You might find after an eleven hour or more flight, that staying in a good hotel in the centre of the best city in the world is a good alternative to carrying on. After all even now Gatwick to Farringdon is just 40 mins and Heathrow to Farringdon is quoted as 30 mins on the Crossrail site, when that line opens.
So could this simple route via Farringdon, demolish the case for a high-speed rail link between Gatwick and Heathrow? It certainly will for those, who can afford to spend a night in a good London hotel or want to stay over. Farringdon is of course a short taxi ride or a one-stop train journey from most main line terminal stations.
One of the things that would make Farringdon a better interchange is some more hotels in the area. But even so, it’s not a bad location for a transport interchange. It’s also next to the wife market in Smithfield and on a more legal level from the best of London’s lawyers.
So perhaps we’ve got the CrossRail/Thameslink railways right
3. A second runway at Gatwick after 2019
I used to fly a lot and was an avid reader of Flight International. Years ago, an airline pilot proposed building a second runway at Gatwick, by building over the M23 and putting that in a tunnel underneath. The runway would have been North-South, which is an unusual direction for the UK, but would only have been used for take-off in a southerly direction.
He had a point and it shows how if you think radically, you may come up with better solutions.
But in my mind Gatwick is the place to put extra runway capacity in the South-East of England. Flights tend to avoid flying over the capital and the rail links, when they are finished will be good.
4. Development of other regional airports, like Manston and Lydd
It’s interesting to see the people of Kent wanting to take their share of the development. I suppose they understand the benefits a large airport will bring.
Manston airport could be easily connected to the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and as it has a long runway. But that’s about it. Financially, it has always been a failure, but it is there for things like maintenance and freight.
Lydd airport is one of those places that grew up after the Second World War to serve a short-hop-to-France market. It does a bit more now, but would not be an airport of my choice.
However saying that about Lydd, over the previous few months, Southend airport has been developed from a small field to a proper airport, with easyJet as an operator. It has a rail link to Liverpool Street station in London, which takes about 50 minutes. But Southend has quite a large catchment area including East London, Chelmsford, Colchester and Ipswich, with good rail and road links. To a certain extent, it will take business from Stansted.
In fact you can now see a pattern developing of London’s airports. The two big ones; Heathrow and Gatwick are badly placed and you wouldn’t put them there now, but remember, the capacity will rise as more and more airlines use larger and larger aircraft at these airports. I can see a time, when these airports completely ban 737′s and the like. I’ve just found, that you can fly Heathrow to Paris in a small Airbus 319. Surely, we need to improve the rail links, so more passengers take the train.
Around these two large airports, a ring of smaller ones is developing.
- Stansted, which is big enough to take long-haul, is still considered a low-cost airline airport
- Luton, which is very much a low-cost airline and charter airport
- City, which is an ideally placed short-haul business airport
- Southend, which is developing into another low-cost airline airport
What is missing, is a low-cost airline airport, or even a business airport like City to the west, with good quick connections to Heathrow. A third shorter runway at Heathrow might have worked for the latter.
I think though on balance, that we shouldn’t take any serious decisions about expanding Heathrow or replacing it with an airport in the Thames Estuary, until CrossRail and Thameslink are fulkly operational and the plans for HS2 are finalised.
3 Comments »
Leave a Reply Cancel reply
About This Blog
What this blog will eventually be about I do not know.
But it will be about how I’m coping with the loss of my wife in 2007 and how I manage with being a coeliac and recovering from a stroke. It will be about travel, football, horses, food, dogs, computers and family, that are some of the other things that fill my life.
And hopefully, it will get rid of the lonely times, I still suffer.
Why Anonymous? That’s how you feel at times.
TagsAdvertising Architecture Art Banks BBC Building Buses Cambridge Cancer Charity Coeliac Crime CrossRail Death Design Driving Engineering Entertainment Films Flying Football France Fraud Horse Racing Internet Ipswich Town Law Liverpool London London Overground London Underground New Bus for London Olympics Phones Politics Religion Shopping Stroke Tax Television The Netherlands Trains United States Weather Zopa
- What Is Royal Stag? wp.me/pyNwx-aY1 33 minutes ago
- Co-Operative Bank Ditches Business Lending wp.me/pyNwx-aXY 3 hours ago
- It Was Quiet Last Night wp.me/pyNwx-aXS 4 hours ago
- The Advantage Of Properly Integrated Systems wp.me/pyNwx-aXN 4 hours ago
- Crystal Palace Station Shines In The Rain wp.me/pyNwx-aXx 5 hours ago