Heathrow might get over £1 billion per year from its congestion charge, at £29 or more per day per vehicle
Heathrow could make £1.2 billion a year from a congestion (vehicle access) charge levied on drivers arriving at the airport by car, according to analysis. Heathrow has committed to expanding without any extra cars on the road. The new charging, that might be introduced when (or IF) a 3rd runway opened – which the airport hopes would be in 2026 – might grow by 2040 to yield as much as £3.25 million per day. The charge, is set to cost £29 a day, based on today’s prices, then rising. As many as 65,000 vehicles would pay the charge each day. It would eventually be levied on all cars, including those with the lowest emissions, and is designed to act to encourage drivers to choose public transport to get to and from Heathrow. In reality, there would not be enough bus and train capacity to deal with all the extra passengers. The number needing to travel by public transport might be 140 million more than now – a 75% increase. There is likely to be no way for drivers in the area, not associated with the airport, to avoid being charged. Heathrow says then money it gets (why does Heathrow get to keep it?) from the charge “will help to improve sustainable transport and keep passenger charges affordable…”
A new penalty system, which will be introduced to coincide with the opening of Heathrow’s third runway in 2026, will grow to yield as much as £3.25 million a day, it was claimed.
The charge, which will eventually be levied on all cars, including the cleanest, is designed to act as an incentive for drivers to choose public transport to reach the west London hub.
However, the airport has been told that capacity on buses and trains will be woefully insufficient to meet the demands of the enlarged airport, which will cater for 142 million passengers — 75 per cent more than it does now.
A submission to Heathrow’s consultation into its expansion says that there is “no practical way” for some people to avoid paying the charge, particularly those living in Surrey, Hampshire and southwest London where direct transport links are lacking.
Heathrow Southern Railway, a private company seeking to build a new rail line to the airport, said the charge will be “seen as just another tax” on passengers. The charge is set to cost £29 a day by 2040, based on today’s prices, but could rise to £50 after inflation.
Passengers using Heathrow already pay higher landing charges than at any other airport in the world, with more than £20 being added to the price of each air ticket.
Heathrow’s consultation into proposals for a two-mile runway northwest of the airport site closed just over a week ago. It will allow an extra 756,000 flights a year.
Heathrow has committed to expanding without any extra cars on the road. Its plan told how the proportion of passengers who travel to the airport via public transport is expected to rise from about 40 per cent in 2015 to 55 per cent by 2040. They will be accommodated by the new east-west Crossrail line, an upgrade of the Tube’s Piccadilly Line and improved coach and bus access.
Plans have also been drawn up for a new rail line from the south, creating a direct link from London Waterloo, and another from the west allowing passengers to travel direct from Reading.
However, the consultation said a decision has “yet to be made” on whether either of the two lines will proceed, casting doubt on whether the public transport system will be able to cope with the surge in passenger numbers.
Heathrow Southern Railway, which is backed by the US engineering giant Aecom, is bidding to build the eight-mile line from Waterloo using private cash but has yet to win firm backing from Heathrow or the Department for Transport.
In a submission to the consultation, the company said that without the line large numbers of passengers would have little choice but to pay the congestion charge, which will be imposed at all drop-off and pick-up points and Heathrow car parks.
It calculated that 65,000 vehicles would pay the charge each day, adding: “With a 2040 price of £50 this would yield for Heathrow £3.25 million a day or almost £1.2 billion a year.”
The scale of payments risks becoming a “major reason for objection” to a third runway and reinforces the need for a new rail line, the company said.
“For many locations in Surrey, Hampshire [and] southwest London there is no viable public transport alternative to road,” it said. “This will cause resentment as there will be no practicable way for people in this area of the country to avoid the charge.”
Last night the airport insisted it supported a new southern rail line and called for the government to support the plan, adding: “Heathrow does not recognise this £1.2 billion figure and we are taking steps to encourage passengers to travel to the airport using more sustainable means. The revenue generated . . . will help to improve sustainable transport and keep passenger charges affordable as the airport expands.”
Heathrow plans to charge motorists £15 to enter ‘congestion cordon’ around airport to tackle toxic air
Heathrow knows it has an insuperable problem with air pollution if it was allowed a 3rd runway. Levels of NO2 are already often illegal, in many places. Now Heathrow is considering imposing a new “H-charge” on motorists who arrive or leave the airport by car. This is intended to reduce air pollution, and get more passengers to travel by rail (already pretty crowded). The idea is for a charge of £10 – 15 for everyone, including taxis and public hire vehicles, for each trip. Not surprisingly, avid backers of the Heathrow runway like Sir Howard Davies and Lord Adonis think the charge is a great idea. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is understood to believe that some form of low emission zone around the airport will be needed. The government has made (rather hard to believe) assurances that a 3rd runway would only be allowed to operate if it can do so within air quality limits. (Which it cannot). Most of the NO2 and particulate pollution in the area is from road vehicles; a high proportion of those are Heathrow associated; a proportion comes from planes. The exact proportions are not known – yet. Heathrow likes to give the impression hardly any is from planes (not true). Heathrow airport says it will consult on the proposals for charging, and details of how it might work – but it is seen as a “last resort” to tackle its air pollution problems. It would be very, very unpopular with travellers and taxi/Uber drivers.
Heathrow plans a ULEZ from 2022 for passenger cars, taxis etc coming to car parks or drop-off areas
Heathrow knows it has to try to do something to cut its high levels of air pollution. So it has proposed some changes, to slightly reduce pollution from road vehicles (nothing about the pollution from the planes). The plan is to introduce charges for passenger cars and all private hire vehicles, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It would be the world’s first airport ULEZ. That might start in 2022, and then turn into a VAC (Vehicle Access Charge) on all passenger cars, taxis and private hire vehicles coming to car parks or drop-off areas, if the runway finally gets built. Heathrow says: “We want to reduce congestion by decreasing the number of cars on the road and encourage more people to use sustainable ways of getting to and from the airport…” And “The Heathrow ULEZ will introduce minimum vehicle emissions standards identical to the London Mayor’s ULEZ…” Initial proposals set the charge figure between £10-£15 per vehicle. “Revenue collected from both schemes will help fund initiatives to improve sustainable transport, contribute to community compensation and help keep airport charges affordable as the airport expands.” (sic) [ie. keep flights cheap, so there can be more flights, which will lead to more air pollution].