High Speed Rail - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from the London (Heathrow) Airline Consultative Committee (HSR 163)


On behalf of the London (Heathrow) Airline Consultative Committee (LACC) and the Heathrow Airline Operators Committee (AOC) we are grateful for the opportunity to comment on the Strategic case for High Speed Rail (HSR). Our comments are focused exclusively on the need to provide a direct link to Heathrow as the nation's hub airport and the implications for wider transport policy in general.

In response to Question 2 as to how HSR fits with the Government's transport policy objectives in the context of aviation, our understanding is that these would be best met by including Heathrow on the mainline HSR route. This primary alignment would meet the following criteria:

—  Satisfy the Government's policy for the integration of transport systems;

—  Facilitate the effective migration from domestic aviation to the rail network;

—  Maximize economic benefits and the competitiveness of industry in the distribution network for goods and services;

—  Reduce carbon emissions through air/rail modal shift; and

—  Respond to European aspirations for full intermodality and connectivity with Europe's fast growing high speed rail network.

In order to meet these objectives, the view of the airlines at Heathrow is that a HS2 scheme, in terms of the routing, should provide the following attributes:

—  A "seamless" transfer for passengers and baggage at a HS2 rail station located at or near Heathrow to enable modal shift from air to rail;

—  Ideally that this station should be en-route on the HS2 mainline as opposed to a spur to maximize potential connectivity benefits;

—  The Heathrow HS2 station should be an intermodal solution which is fully integrated into the UK transport network along designs similar to equivalent hubs at Frankfurt, Paris and Amsterdam and which attract EU funding from the Trans European Network-T initiative (TEN-T).

The existing HS2 scheme and the Secretary of State for Transport's recommendations in December 2010 propose that the airport should be connected to HS2 via a spur to the north of the airport. This will be constructed in Phase 2, alongside links to Manchester and Leeds. We believe that although a spur would deliver benefits to Heathrow it will not maximise all the benefits that an en-route station would do, as detailed above. This has implications for both meeting Government objectives and the affordability of the scheme.

The LACC and AOC will be taking part in the Government's consultation process with a view to improving surface access at Heathrow. Our aim will be to ensure the best possible outcome for both Heathrow and the UK transport system.

Whilst we fully respect the Government's desire for economic balancing across the UK, the airlines are of the strong view that the strategic route for HSR must be fully integrated with an en-route station at or near Heathrow. Only this solution will meet the Government's and the airlines requirements to enhance the air and rail passenger experience in a fully integrated transport solution aligned with European norms and developments.

May 2011

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Prepared 8 November 2011