Level playing field on transport costs vital to proper assessment of runway options – says TfL
The issue of surface access to airports was the subject of the RunwaysUK conference on 2nd June. Michèle Dix, planning director of Transport for London, said that the costs for surface access for each of the runway options must be assessed against a level playing field of criteria. Michèle said it was vital that estimates by runway promoters reflected that actual needs of transport in the capital. “You need to compare like with like. What are the true and full costs of accommodating this additional demand? If airports are placing a greater demand on the network then we need a greater transport provision.” The Thames estuary proposal had not compared the surface access needs, like for like. She estimated that comparable “optimal” investment level of investment needed – the total package of transport schemes required to deliver an optimal level of surface transport access – for Heathrow was £17.6bn, Gatwick £12.4bn and an Inner Thames Estuary airport £19.1bn. . Tweet
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One of the slides from Michelle Dix’s presentation:
Level playing field on transport costs vital to proper assessment of airport runway options.
Antony Oliver (Infrastructure Intelligence) 4 June 2014 Surface access costs for each of the airport development options being scrutinised by Sir Howard Davies Airports Commission (see below) must be assessed against a level playing field of criteria, Transport for London planning director Michele Dix warned this week. Presenting the findings of TfL’s on-going assessment work to inform the Airport Commission as it works towards recommending a preferred airport expansion option for the UK, Dix told delegates to the RunwaysUK Surface Access debate that it was vital that estimates by promoters reflected that actual needs of transport in the capital. “We cannot assume that the schemes that are already committed to will absorb that growth. We have tried to assess what is required for each of the options on the table and find what is the minimal level and the optimal level. “ Michele Dix, Transport for London “We want to make sure that when the Davies Commission makes its decisions we are assessing the options on a similar basis,” she said. “You need to compare like with like. What are the true and full costs of accommodating this additional demand? If airports are placing a greater demand on the network then we need a greater transport provision.” Dix highlighted her concern that the original TfL supported inner estuary option, now being reviewed by the Davies Commission for possible inclusion on the shortlist, had suffered from not comparing the surface access needs like for like. She estimated that comparable “optimal” investment level of investment needed – the total package of transport schemes required to deliver an optimal level of surface transport access – for Heathrow was £17.6bn, Gatwick £12.4bn and an Inner Thames Estuary airport £19.4bn. Similarly she said that the minimum “low” level required would be some £2.1bn at Heathrow, £0.4bn at Gatwick and £2.5bn for an estuary scheme. “TfL put forward the optimal provision for Thames Estuary. But that was being compared with the low provision that was put forward by others in their submissions. We are saying that you have to compare like with like.” Dix highlighted the additional public transport and road traffic burden that any new airport expansion would place on the capital’s transport networks adding that one of the critical factors was that the nature of flight times meant that airports tended to place more passengers load on the public transport at peak hours. “We cannot assume that the schemes that are already committed to will absorb that growth,” she said. “We have tried to assess what is required for each of the options on the table and find what is the minimal level and the optimal level. And then we could compare these with the figures included in each of the proposal schemers and with the objectives set by the Davies commission.” “We are literally playing catch up with our growth,” said Dix pointing out that even without additional airport capacity London was predicted to have to cope with an additional 5M trips on the rail network by 2030 and 10M trips by 2050. “It is a similar story on the road network – and with the growth forecast these things will only get worse.” Airport development “no game changer” in rail development strategy: Network Rail Network Rail strategy and planning director Paul Harwood agreed that meeting the challenge of growth on transport networks was critical but pointed out that the unprecedented growth witnessed on the railways meant that. Regardless of the addition of new airport capacity, “continued significant investment in the railways” was vital. “The three or four new airport proposals are not really game changers,” Paul Harwood, Network Rail “The three or four new airport proposals are not really game changers,” he said referring to their overall impact of growth estimates. “In the morning peak it represents a relative small percentage of usage on the infrastructure. But they do provide a significant amount of demand outside the peak.” “Looking at the surface access requirements of the three shortlisted options you need quite a lot of that investment anyway. It is all going in the same direction,” he said “However, without wishing to be too negative, the hub proposal is a different strategic direction – there is no doubt about it.” We haven’t really worked on the Estuary option. “That probably is a game changer but it is against the direction of travel – there is a busy network that you would have to integrate with so would require a big investment. The upside is that you would then see a high mode shift.” Airport expansion contenders set out their surface access options Speaking at this week’s RunwaysUK Surface Access debate the three Davies Commission shortlisted schemes plus the Inner Thames Estuary scheme set out and discussed their challenges and opportunities over surface access to the airport.
“We have to look at the whole of the South East capacity not just central London,” said Foster and Partners’ Huw Thomas. “How we grow to the east is our key task. Make no mistake we will have to because that is where people will live.” Thames Hub says: “Surface access is critical and a key component of the airport evolution and the way our economy will develop” Thomas set out a range of surface assess options to a new hub airport on the Isle of Grain including the use of the existing classic railway, new high speed trains and local services. Together these would provide some 17 trains an hour and 11,800 passenger journeys in each direction plus new road, park and ride capacity and freight transport solutions. “Surface access is critical and a key component of the airport evolution and the way our economy will develop,” he said. “If we are thinking 30 to 50 years from now for future generations it is about the way London is going to grow and where future generations will live and where they will want connectivity. It is not about cramming a quart into a pint pot any more but about taking the right decisions about what we do with road and rail and housing and where we put that critical infrastructure.”
Head of Airport development Julia Gregory set out Gatwick’s vision to boost public transport access to the airport from the current 45% of passengers to 60% by the time a second runway was operational in 2021, putting some 15M people within 1 hour of the airport with a tripling of rail capacity. Gatwick says: “Gatwick also serves the regional economy. We have shown that there is room for everyone [commuters and air passengers] to use the railway.” The new “Gatwick Obviously” surface access strategy she said would see a new Gatwick Express service on line by 2016 and the upgraded Thameslink service reach the airport by 2018 which, with trains to London every 2.5 minutes and a connection to 175 railway stations, would provide an unrivalled public transport solution. “We are delivering capacity for the user but also for the UK economy,” she said. “Gatwick also serves the regional economy. We have shown that there is room for everyone [commuters and air passengers] to use the railway.” In addition to the improvement to the hard shoulder running on the M25 and M23, Gatwick has also committed to 100% fund a doubling of capacity at junction 9 of the M23, improving the local road network and provide 9km of new walking and cycle routes or the local population. “We are not looking to introduce a congestion charge as a result of the scheme and we are not looking for public subsidy either,” said Gregory. “Our infrastructure required is planned, committed and funded. Gatwick is the best connected, best for the economy and best for the passenger.”
Simon Earles, Heathrow Airport’s head of surface access strategy said the airport had listened and engaged with its stakeholders so as to develop a surface access strategy that underpinned plans to expand the UK’s premier hub airport. Heathrow says: “Heathrow is a truly integrated transport hub. We are planning a step change in public transport use and no new airport related traffic.” “Heathrow is critical for trades – for imports and exports. It is the premier port by value in the UK,” said Earles, highlighting that Heathrow is about more than just passenger services. “Our plans include the doubling of capacity for freight.” But passengers are of course a key part of the Heathrow mix and building on the current London Underground lines and Heathrow Express service, Earles said the airports plans included increasing from the current 18 trains an hour into the airport to 40 by 2040. “Rail is critically important to our future,” he said highlighting the “committed and credible plan” to triple the numbers of seats and double the number of trains into the airport. “Heathrow is a truly integrated transport hub. We are planning a step change in public transport use and no new airport related traffic.” Critically the Heathrow plans also include major changes to the M25 access into airport with new exit strategies and a new access route to the central terminal area via the south to relieve pressure on the northern entrance. “A congestion charge is planned to control traffic flows around the Heathrow area – but only if required,” he added.
Airports are only as good as their ground transport links, Heathrow Hub promoter Mark Bostock reminded the Runways UK delegates this week as he set out plans for a step change in access to the UK main hub airport using an innovative northern hub interchange. Heathrow Hub says: “Crucially we are proposing to close junction 14 to increase the separation between the airport junctions and helps safeguard land for future runway extensions.” “Heathrow is in the right place,” he said reiterating the folly of attempting to create a new hub elsewhere. “The surface access solution needs a very integrated approach. The key is bringing the front door of the airport closer to the road and rail network.” The new rail hub would be sited between Paddington and Reading and connect passengers to the airport in five minutes using automated people movers at 90 second intervals thus avoiding the need to create any expensive new direct train connections to the airport from the west to achieve 60% of passengers using public transport. In addition the scheme would see access from the M25 revamped by removing junction 14 and providing greater capacity exits at other junctions. “The critical problem is not capacity but weaving traffic on the M25,” he explained. “Our solution is to use more dispersed access to the airport and it is a solution that I think has been welcomed by the Highways Agency. Crucially we are proposing to close junction 14 to increase the separation between the airport junctions and helps safeguard land for future runway extensions.” http://www.infrastructure-intelligence.com/article/jun-2014/level-playing-field-transport-costs-vital-proper-assessment-airport-runway-options . . Slide from Michele Dix’s presentation. Michèle Dix, Managing Director of Planning, Transport for London
Heathrow and Gatwick set out their rival claims at RunwaysUK conference on airport surface access
The organisation, RunwaysUK, which describes itself as a neutral platform for debate on the rival runway schemes, held an interesting and productive half day conference on surface access to airports. There were accounts by Heathrow, Gatwick, Heathrow Hub and the Thames estuary scheme proposers of their plans for road and rail access, as well as contributions by TfL, Network Rail and others with an interest. It is recognised that adding a runway in the south east would come with immense transport strains on existing transport infrastructure. In order to meet requirements on the amount of passengers (and staff) using the airport to be by public transport, the airports know they cannot depend on road access alone. The pressure of extra passengers on networks that are already stretched, especially at peak times, is recognised – though Gatwick and Heathrow do their best to say their passengers will add little, and merely make rail services more profitable out of peak hours. Vexed issues remain of how much the taxpayer pays for transport services the airports benefit from, and what the cost of added congestion to road and rail services – from millions of extra air passengers being added – would cost the economy.