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.



These are the speaker presentations from the conference

View speaker presentations here.

And other Post-Show resources  

Surface access challenges for new UK runway hotly debated


3.6.2014 (Airport World)

Surface access challenges for new UK runway hotly debated

Ambitious road and rail projects were revealed yesterday to cope with the challenges faced in providing transport systems to service the Airports Commission’s proposals for increasing the UK’s aviation capacity.

Transportation links into Heathrow, Gatwick, and a possible new Estuary Airport were debated at the Runways UK Surface Access conference at Pinsent Masons in London.

The Airports Commission has shortlisted three options to increase aviation runway capacity in the UK: a third runway to the northwest at Heathrow; the extension of a runway at Heathrow proposed by the independent Heathrow Hub group; a second runway at London Gatwick, while it will make a decision shortly on whether to add the multi-billion Estuary Airport to the list.

The first keynote speaker, Michael Schabas, from FCP, outlined his view on any expansion decision: “Connectivity is really important, followed by frequency, reliability, speed, and price,” he says.

In his view, London can learn about surface access from the Frankfurt inter-city transport links: “You can go almost anywhere in Germany on a train from Frankfurt Airport – an interesting example for London.”

He warned the UK not to make the same ‘big mistake’ made in Shanghai, China, where separate domestic and international airports were built on each side of the city.

Schabas told delegates he believes the Piccadilly line loop link with T4 at Heathrow was a ‘mistake’ and thinks it may be scrapped in the future.

He did appear to support a new runway at Heathrow, as highlighted it was in the right place for expansion, due to its location and links into London, and proximity to rail links and motorways, and the six million that use the Piccadilly line to get there.

Any new runway in the UK will have a huge impact on the Transport for London (Tfl) network, and managing director of planning and transport for Tfl, Michele Dix, says it is already crowded.

“Come 2031 even with all this committed schemes it is crowded on the underground and roads. We are playing catch-up at Tfl with the growth in London.

“There is substantial crowding in the future at peak hours even with planned improvements,” Dix explains.


Improved rail links to cope with the influx of more passengers resulting from the building of any new runway is seen as essential for making sure surface access is efficient.

Network Rail strategy and planning director, Paul Harwood, told delegates new runways at Gatwick and Heathrow, would increase use on the rail network by 6% at peak times.

“Both Heathrow and Gatwick would contribute a relatively small proportion of demand into London in the morning peak, but expansion at either are not peak hour game-changers,” he says.

Harwood says any airport expansion should be considered as a contributor to growth, and Network Rail is yet to assess the impact of the proposed Estuary Airport.

In his briefing, Airports Commission Secretariat Oliver Mulvey, highlighted the importance the quality of surface access, and says the commission considering ‘speed, cost and reliability’.

“For each option shortlisted, we will look at how good access to London is, across the South East and the regions,” Mulvey explains.

Any of the runway projects, he notes need to the balance the needs of commuters, airport passengers and freight use in their surface access strategy.

Mulvey explains the commission will undergo an intensive summer appraisal of all the shortlisted options, before a national consultation on each from around October time.

As for the Estuary Airport proposal, he says four feasibility studies have been carried out, including one on surface transport, and all the studies will be published for comment in July.

The commission will make a decision on the Boris Johnson championed new hub on the Isle of Grain in Kent in August, or September, and Mulvey says, if it is shortlisted it could push back their timetable.

In his presentation on the Estuary Airport, Huw Thomas, a partner at Foster + Partners, architect for the project, explains it would have a transportation hub, servicing all transport modes.

Among proposals, Thomas says are construction of a Lower Thames bridge crossing linking Kent and Essex by rail and road, while rail links are a key part of the plans, as it connects the ‘crisis of increased population in the east of London’ and to routes for economic needs.

Thomas says the integrated transportation hub, would be similar to Hong Kong International Airport: “Downtown check-in is critical and a key of how an airport functions. Passengers would be able to drop bags off at the transport hub on arrival, which would go direct to gates,” he explains.

Thomas believes a long-term decision must be made by the commission as expansion affects generations of the future.


Gatwick’s propsed Gatwick Gateway

As part of London Gatwick’s plans for a second runway, is a new single transportation centre Gatwick Gateway, which would handle all transportation arrivals.

Head of airport development, Julia Gregory, told delegates that ‘maximising’ public transport was a key part of the strategy, and it hopes 60% passengers will arrive by public transport, by 2040.

The M25 and M23 would also be improved, including the doubling of capacity at Junction 9 of the M23, while coach and bus links would be ramped up.

Gregory says the Gatwick Gateway is deliverable by 2021: “15 million people would be within 60 minutes of Gatwick, and one million people within 25 miles.”

Gatwick says by 2019 there will be a train to London every 2.5 minutes, rail capacity will be doubled by 2020, nearly trebled by 2035, and 1000 rail stations will be within one change.


Heathrow’s planned transportation hub

Heathrow Airport head of surface access strategy, Simon Earles, then told delegates improving surface access is a key part of the gateway’s runway proposal, and one transportation hub is planned as part of the restructuring project – which would feature a Heathrow West and Heathrow East.

Part of Heathrow’s plans are a western rail link and a southern rail link, that Earles describes as the ‘missing link’ in the network, and he says by 2030 the number of trains to Heathrow would double, and the number of seats tripled, by increasing capacity on all services.

If a third runway is built, modifications would be made to the M4, and M25, including the building of a 650 metre tunnel for the M25.

The centre of the independent Heathrow Hub group’s surface access plans, is a Heathrow Hub Station interchange to the north of the airport, including a passenger bag drop with links to all terminals.

Director Mike Bostock, urges an integrated approach to surface access, including new a rail link to the south, and a link with the proposed HS2, and also told delegates if Heathrow is expanded, it should be planned with a fourth runway in mind.

The Airports Commission led by Sir Howard Davies will give its final recommendations to the government after next May’s general election.



True and full costs on surface transport

. A slide from Michele Dix’s (from TfL) presentation   Link 


Potential trip growth on public transport and road


And another slide from Michele Dix, indicating the extra pressure on surface transport, at peak times, from another runway being allowed at Heathrow or Gatwick   Link 



Heathrow and Gatwick step up battle for new runway

Leaders of Heathrow and Gatwick’s bids to argue they have best infrastructure to cope with extra travellers at industry event on Monday

Heathrow and Gatwick will step up their battle over the right to build Britain’s next runway on Monday as bosses try to persuade policymakers that they will have the best infrastructure to cope with extra travellers.

Leaders of Gatwick’s bid will claim at an industry event in London that Britain’s second largest airport will be “road and rail ready” for a second runway by 2021 – at no additional cost to the taxpayer.

A £6.5bn government-sponsored Thameslink programme linking the airport to Greater London and the South East is already underway. Bosses will say plans to build transport links to support a second runway at the West Sussex airport by 2025 will require no additional taxpayer funding.

Hugh Sumner, the airport’s senior transport adviser, said new Gatwick Express trains by 2016 would help to double rail capacity before the end of the decade, and treble it by 2035.

“Not only is the second runway at Gatwick the optimal thing for the nation and economy, but beneath that, getting better access to and from Gatwick will be in place well before a second runway happens,” he said. “Not only will Gatwick not need a public subsidy for [this], but it will generate about £3bn back to the taxpayer in terms of increased rail revenues.”

Heathrow bosses will also lay out plans to beef-up transport links to Europe’s busiest airport. Heathrow wants to treble rail capacity to 15,000 seats per hour by 2030, meaning more than 70pc of the UK will be within three hours of the airport if it builds a third runway.

Heathrow is already the UK’s best connected transport hub,” said Simon Earles, head of surface access at Heathrow. “It is in a better geographical location for most UK passengers and companies than other options for airport expansion.”

According to Heathrow, new rail links will slash journey times to and from the airport. It claims journey times to Leeds would be cut by more than half to just 1 hour 40 mins, while travelling to Birmingham would take just under an hour.

The Airports Commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, has short-listed three options for a new runway in the South East of England to enable Britain to keep up with aviation capacity demands.

Two options have been shortlisted at Heathrow: a third runway to the north west of the airport or the creation of a “Heathrow Hub” that would involve extending the airport’s existing north runway to 6km and dividing it in two. Sir Howard believes it will be possible to build an additional Heathrow runway by 2026. A second runway at Gatwick is the other option.

Mr Sumner described a second Gatwick runway as the most efficient option. “Two plus two is the right thing for the nation,” he said. Gatwick claims it will be able to get holidaymakers from its internal rail platforms to all terminals in just two minutes. “We can save the consumer time getting getting to and from the airport, time within the airport and time taxiing,” said Mr Sumner.

Sir Howard is due to give his final recommendation to the Government in 2015.





New Civil       Engineer


Gatwick sets out road and rail case for expansion

2 June, 2014


By Greg Pitcher (NCE)


Gatwick has emphasised the road and rail improvements that will leave it ready for a second runwa

The Sussex airport released a document showing that trains would leave for central London every two and a half minutes by 2019, with overall rail capacity from Gatwick doubled from now to 2020.

It added that road and rail upgrades already planned by the government would allow a second runway to be built without any additional surface access expenditure for the taxpayer.

Gatwick, Heathrow and a new inner Thames Estuary airport are competing for permission to provide extra air capacity in the South East.

Hugh Sumner, senior transport advisor for London Gatwick, said: “Gatwick will be road and rail ready for a second runway by 2021 with no additional cost to the taxpayer. The ease at which these improvements can be delivered adds yet more weight to the obvious case for a new runway at Gatwick.

“Gatwick already has the highest proportion of passengers travelling by public transport and these improvements will help encourage even more. We want 60% of our customers to use public transport, comparable with the best globally and better than any UK airport.”



RunwaysUK says they are a:  “neutral platform for scheme debate.” http://www.runwaysuk.com/ruk/about-runways-uk



Runways UK conference agenda:

Runways UK: Airport Infrastructure for a Future Britain

RUK Surface Access Programme





14:30 Event Moderator: Antony Oliver, Editor, Infrastructure Intelligence



14:35 Michael Schabas, Partner, FCP

Passenger satisfaction, sustainability and economics are driving significant developments in surface access systems to and from airports around the world. Michael provides a round up of best global practice and how the lessons learnt can be applied to the UK airport capacity debate.

14:50 Michèle Dix, Managing Director of Planning, Transport for London

Michèle will offer an explanation of the surveyed/predicted airport passenger journeys, passenger growth and the influence of demographic change and modal shift on these figures; together with an overview of how TfL has assessed the modifications and additions that will be needed to the current public transport systems for each of the potential schemes



Paul Harwood, strategy and planning director, Network Rail

Explanation of Network Rail’s assessment of how to link the national rail system (local and intercity) to each the four airport options, both ‘short term’ improvements, and the long-term including the predicted growth in passenger numbers over these periods; the integration of the national rail network with the transports systems of TfL together providing the transport to the airports; how well these systems will provide for the needs of people living and working within London, across the whole of the UK and visitors travelling to both London the rest of the UK and the freight needs.



Oliver Mulvey, Airports Commission Secretariat

How the Airports Commission is appraising the surface access elements of the short-listed proposals.





Each presenter will set out what their latest proposals for surface access provisions for their schemes. They will explain how well they see these proposals satisfying the passenger and freight demand and the way they see these proposals being implemented. They will detail what surface transport infrastructure costs are included in their cost estimates and what costs are not included; and what costs will be paid for by the Airport and what costs are expected to be paid for from the public purse.

15:45 The Estuary: Huw Thomas, Partner, Foster + Partners

Explanation of the plans to link The Estuary Airport to London and to the rest of the UK in terms of highways (car, bus, coach) and rail; stating the proportion of passengers expected to travel by public transport as opposed to car by 2030 and 2050; the airport capacity (passenger and freight) being used; any ‘high speed rail’ links with the travel times for these; any plans for ‘park and ride’ with luggage facilities and any plans for a new lower Thames crossing.





16:20 Gatwick Airport: Julia Gregory, Head of Airport Development, Gatwick Airport, and transport consultant Hugh Sumner

Explanation of short term and long term plans to link a new expanded Gatwick airport to London and to the rest of the UK in terms of both highways and rail. Our speakers will set out what proportion of passengers are predicted to travel by public transport rather than car by 2030 and 2050; how this matches the airport’s predicted passenger and freight capacity; how the ‘Gatwick Express’ links to the national rail network and the local London networks of Network Rail and TfL; and any plans to link Gatwick Airport by rail to the other London airports.

16:35 Heathrow Airport: Simon Earles, Head of Surface Access Strategy, Heathrow Airport

Explanation of the infrastructure modifications (including the M25 and the M4) to accommodate the additional runway proposal; future increase in highway traffic due to increased airport capacity; the airport capacity (passenger and freight) being used in the proposal; plans to improve the public transport links to London and to the rest of the UK; the proportion of passengers predicted to travel to the airport by public transport rather than car by 2030 and 2050; the allowance in the plans, if any, for the maintenance or replacement of  the vital elevated M4 link into London.

16:50 Heathrow Hub: Mark Bostock, Director, Heathrow Hub

Explanation of the infrastructure modifications (including the M25 and the M4) to accommodate the additional runway proposal; future increase in highway traffic due to increased airport capacity; the airport capacity being used in the proposal; the principles of the ‘Hub’, the ‘interchange’, and how it works in surface access terms, both highways and rail; the proportion of passengers expected to travel to the airport by public transport rather than car by 2030 and 2050; the allowance in the plans, if any, for the maintenance or replacement of  the vital elevated M4 link into London.



17:05 Panel Q&A

Chris Welsh, director of Global and European policy, Freight Transport Association

Tony Burton, founder, Civic Voice

Michael Schabas, partner, FCP

17:30 Delegate Q&A



17:45 Steve Norris in conversation with Antony Oliver

18:05 Close




Runways UK’s surface access event is centred around the challenge of providing the transport systems to service the Airports Commission’s proposals for increasing the UK’s aviation capacity.

For many years people travelled to and from airports chiefly by road, car, taxi or bus. Increasingly, they now travel on some form of rail transport and Government policy is to increase the use of sustainable transport to access airports for both passengers and staff.

For any airport, the core access questions are the same: where do people want to get to when they land at the airport; where do people leave from to get to the airport; and what is the quickest and most reliable way to get them there?

RUK Surface Access, which takes place on 2 June in central London, is the place to learn of the challenges and opportunities from the promoters of the schemes still in the running to be the Airport’s Commission’s recommended option; namely Heathrow R3, Heathrow Hub, Gatwick second runway and an Estuary scheme.