Written evidence from ABTA - The Travel
Association (HSR 137)|
1. ABTAThe Travel Association was founded
in 1950and is the leading travel trade association in the
UK, with over 1,400 members. Our members range from small, specialist
tour operators and independent travel agencies through to publicly
listed companies and household names, from call centres to internet
booking services to high street shops. ABTA members sell millions
of independent arrangements for travel both overseas and in the
2. We welcome the opportunity to contribute to
your inquiry. We have commented on points of principle and not
on the detailed route.
3. ABTA supports the proposed high speed rail
network. However, we believe this should complement additional
airport capacity in the South East and not be a substitute. We
also feel there needs to be an integrated transport system with
seamless interchanges to international gateways and networks and
that the Government should commit to both phases from the outset
with onward extension to Scotland.
4. ABTA has long supported additional runway
capacity in the South East, particularly at Heathrow and Gatwick,
to allow for long-term growth. We were very concerned at the Government's
announcement ruling out further runways at Heathrow, Gatwick and
Stansted and its intention to make these airports better and not
5. ABTA believes that high speed rail will not
solve Heathrow's chronic capacity constraints. The short-haul
air market represents a relatively small proportion of Heathrow's
total flights and passenger numbers. The airport serves a small
number of destinations in Scotland, Northern England and continental
Europe where there is some form of viable rail alternative available
from central London. HS1 between London and Paris and Brussels
has reduced the number of passengers flying between those destinations
and London, but it has not replaced the routes entirely. Many
of Heathrow's domestic passengers are transferring to flights
to other destinations from Heathrow. Further, unless there is
a direct link to the airport allowing passengers a seamless interchange,
there is no incentive to switch to rail from air. Rail is never
going to be able to serve long-haul destinations, and even for
short-haul routes, rail will always be more limited than in continental
Europe because we are an island nation. Building a high speed
rail link is not an alternative to increasing runway capacity.
6. To be noted that additional runway capacity
will be paid by private funding whereas HS2 will largely be paid
for from the public purse.
7. ABTA strongly believes that the Government
should commit to building the full network to Leeds and Manchester
from the outset, so that HS2 is not simply a trunk route from
London to Birmingham. Without this further extension, the case
for HSR becomes weaker given that it is the relieving of congestion
on existing rail lines to Manchester and Leeds that form a key
element of the business case. Without links to Manchester and
Leeds, the degree to which HSR could help reduce emissions from
domestic air travel will be further limited.
8. We also believe the Government should give
early consideration to onward extension to Scotland given the
potential economic benefits created by increasing connectivity
within the UK.
9. We feel that HS2 needs to be an integrated
transport system with seamless interchanges to international gateways
and networks. This includes HS1, Heathrow and Birmingham airports.
10. It is not sufficient that Heathrow is connected
by a spur link from Old Oak Common. Unless there is a seamless
interchange, passengers will not be inclined to use HSR and will
continue to fly in order to transfer to onward flights.
11. HS2 Ltd themselves say that this project
is at best carbon neutral. They predict that 65% of passengers
will either transfer from existing rail services, with faster
trains inevitably increasing carbon emissions, or are additional
incremental journeys as a result of faster trains which will also
12. It is crucial that the environmental impact
of a HSR network is fully understood and plays a positive role
in helping the UK meet its 2050 greenhouse gas emissions reductions
13. Thank you for taking our comments into consideration.
We would welcome the opportunity to contribute further or expand
upon any of the above points.
16 May 2011