Birmingham Heathrow high-speed link could hit BIA

6.1.2008   (Birmingham Post)

by Paul Dale

Birmingham could get a 35-minute high speed rail link to Heathrow under plans
being considered by the government.

Transport minister Lord Adonis wants to build the country’s largest passenger
interchange at Heathrow as part of a 200mph express line linking St Pancras to
Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.

And he expects businesses to help meet the estimated £20billion cost of the London
to Manchester extension.

Lord Adonis said the "bullet train" line could mirror London’s Crossrail project,
which attracted £700million from private companies.

His support for the biggest railway project for more than 100 years was welcomed
by Birmingham City Council chief executive Stephen Hughes, who rejected fears
faster journey times to London might lure customers away from Birmingham International

It takes two hours to travel by train from Birmingham to Heathrow.

Passengers can go to Euston or Marylebone and take the London Underground to
Heathrow, or change at Reading and use a coach. If Lord Adonis gets his way, it
would be possible to travel between Birmingham and Heathrow in little over half
an hour.

Mr Hughes insisted both airports could benefit:   "This would enable passengers
from Birmingham to get to Heathrow much more quickly.  But obviously people will
say what does this mean for BIA?"

Mr Hughes believes BIA and Heathrow must work together.

He added:   "This is positive news.   If you think about how Heathrow and Gatwick
work, an awful lot of people travel by bus between the two.   We must not look
parochially at this, there will be benefits for Birmingham Airport."

The rail interchange could work to the advantage of BIA if the government decides
against a third runway at Heathrow.

Mr Hughes said the 35-minute journey time between Heathrow and Birmingham would
effectively make BIA "Heathrow’s third runway".

Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Jerry Blackett insisted
BIA had "nothing to fear" from Heathrow.


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