Transport for London may join legal challenge against Heathrow runway, due to lack of clarity on surface transport
Transport for London (TfL) are the expert body on transport issues for London. They have long been very concerned about the surface access problems a 3rd Heathrow runway would cause. They now say the government could face a legal challenge, if there is no better clarity on the matter. TfL would join the legal challenge of the 4 councils. TfL director of city planning, Alex Williams, said he had not seen evidence from the DfT or Heathrow to support the airport’s claim that the public transport mode share of its passengers of 50% by 2030 would be achieved, or how airport traffic could be kept at current levels. By contrast, the analysis by TfL on the matter is completely transparent. Alex said: “If no-one’s prepared to share information or substantiate their case about how you can deliver those mode share targets…then you’re just heading straight for a court hearing, because we’re at loggerheads and no-one’s prepared to share that information or have that technical discussion about the merits of the case.” About 40% of Heathrow passenger trips are now on public transport, and TfL estimates this number would need to rise to 69% by 2030, for Heathrow to meet its pledge of no extra traffic on roads near the airport. TfL says the Southern and Western Rail Access schemes rail schemes are “essential” if there is a 3rd runway.
Row brewing over Heathrow access plans, warns TfL
16 FEBRUARY, 2018
BY FIONA MCINTYRE (New Civil Engineer)
The government could be in line for a lengthy legal battle with Transport for London (TfL) over the non-disclosure of information about future traffic levels for the Heathrow expansion, a senior director at the transport body has warned.
Speaking to New Civil Engineer, TfL director of city planning Alex Williams said he had not seen evidence from the Department for Transport (DfT) or Heathrow to support the airport’s claim that the public transport mode share of 50% by 2030 would be achieved, or how airport traffic will be kept at current levels.
“Our analysis of the surface access to the airport, and expanded airport, is all in the public domain. It’s completely transparent,” said Williams.
“If no-one’s prepared to share information or substantiate their case about how you can deliver those mode share targets…then you’re just heading straight for a court hearing, because we’re at loggerheads and no-one’s prepared to share that information or have that technical discussion about the merits of the case.”
Roughly 40% of trips to Heathrow are currently made by public transport. As a requirement for expansion, public transport journeys must hit 50% by 2030. Heathrow has also pledged there will be no extra traffic on the roads as a result of expansion.
To achieve that, TfL believes the public transport mode share has to reach around 69%.
Williams added that the the government’s National Policy Statement (NPS) on Heathrow must make clear that the Southern and Western Rail Access schemes rail schemes are “essential” to the airport’s expansion.
“To pretend they’re not [essential] is not credible in my view,” he said. “There is no evidence that we have seen that can indicate you can deliver those mode share targets without those products being in place.”
MPs will vote on Heathrow expansion in the first half of 2018. If it is approved by parliament and TfL is not satisfied with the proposed surface access provision, it could join a legal challenge against expansion, with several London boroughs.
To satisfy TfL, the NPS would have to commit to Southern and Western Rail Access schemes. Emission-based charging regimes, such as a low emission zone around the airport, would also have to be given greater weight in the NPS.
A Heathrow Airport Ltd spokesperson said: ”As part of our current ongoing consultation we have detailed our surface access strategy and are seeking feedback on how best to implement different initiatives to achieve our overall goal that by 2030 at least 50% of journeys will be by sustainable public transport, up from approximately 40% today.
”This could be done by introducing things like a congestion charge at the airport, investing in improved bus and rail connections like the Western and Southern Rail Access, and supporting the increase of frequency and operating hours of new Elizabeth line services.”
Last week transport secretary Chris Grayling said that commitment to Western Rail Access is more likely to be included in planning permission for the scheme than the NPS, although he clarified that construction is due to start during Network Rail’s control period 6 (CP6), which begins next year, and finish before the runway opens.
No commitments have been made for the Southern Rail Access scheme, but the government will be holding talks with private investors over the next few months.
Williams added: “We just need to get on with it and come up with a defined scheme and make sure it’s delivered in a timely fashion, and that’s not happening at the moment because Heathrow and the DfT think it is desirable and not essential. Our view is that it is essential.”
A DfT spokesperson said: “Heathrow Northwest Runway will help secure the UK’s status as a global aviation hub – delivering greater passenger benefits earlier than other options. [They are just like a boring gramophone record, stuck in the same groove, mouthing the same platitudes – in the same words – over and over and over and over again …. AW comment]
“A Southern Rail Link to Heathrow forms part of the government’s long term vision for the railway. The transport secretary was clear in his evidence to the transport select committee that he expects Western Rail Access to begin construction over the next five year investment period from 2019, and to conclude before the opening of the runway.
“We are analysing consultation responses and will consider any evidence submitted by TfL.”
TfL Surface Access Analysis of Heathrow possible 3rd runway warns of congestion and over-crowding that would be caused to surface transport
Transport for London (TfL) has raised concerns over the impact Heathrow expansion will have on the capital’s transport network, warning over significant crowding. In its surface access analysis (Jan 2018) TfL says a 3 runway Heathrow is expected to result in an extra 170,000 daily passenger and staff trips compared to now. While Heathrow has “pledged” that there would be no new airport related traffic on the roads compared to today, that can only mean a higher % of passengers using public transport. TfL has raised concerns over the feasibility of this – and what it will mean for London’s public transport. In order to achieve no rise in highway trips, TfL says around 65-70% of trips would need to be on public transport. That would work out as a 210% increase on journeys at present. TfL believes a 3-runway Heathrow would probably generate 90,000 extra vehicle trips along with another 100,000 extra public transport trips each day. That is likely to mean bad over-crowding of roads for non-airport users. In the morning peak for travel, there would be a 3 – 5% rise in average highway journey times across west London as far in as Westminster. For rail passengers it would mean “significant levels of crowding” on the Elizabeth Line, Piccadilly Line and Windsor lines.