Written evidence from Birmingham Airport
1. This is an independent response from Birmingham
Airport to the Transport Select Committee's Enquiry into the Strategic
Case for High Speed Rail. It should be read in connection with
a submission provided by the Airport Operators Association (AOA).
2. The AOA is the trade association that represents
the interests of many UK airports. Membership comprises some 70
airport companies, representing the nation's international and
major regional airports in addition to many serving community,
business and general aviation.
3. The AOA has made a submission to the Select
4. It is understandable that an organisation
such as AOA, which represents geographically disparate Airports,
each within their own zone of economic activity, has to find a
fair compromise between its members when making submissions to
enquiries which could influence fundamental travel patterns, and
hence profitability, of its members.
5. Birmingham Airport is providing this submission
as a supplement to, and not replacement of, the submission made
by the AOA.
6. Where no comment has been made to the contrary,
the Committee should assume that the views of Birmingham Airport
are aligned with those of the Airport Operator's Association.
7. This document seeks to outline areas where
are differences in opinion, interpretation, or indeed strategic
8. Our starting point is that UK Plc must not
be wedded to one mode of transport. Just as rail is not the complete
answer, neither is roador air. Each mode should be used
to best advantagewhether domestically or in creating vital
International links with commerce.
9. Transport links are the lifeblood of UK Plc;
they are enablers of wealth and commerce. They should be integrated
and "seamless", to make travelling and switch between
modes, stress-free. Scarce resources should be used to best advantage.
10. It is hoped that by providing an alternative
vision, Birmingham Airport will assist the Select Committee in
examining options from a national perspective.
London's other Airport?
Maybebut Birmingham also has an important regional role
11. The Airport launched its current Airport Master Plan
"Towards 2030: Planning a Sustainable Future for Air Transport
in the Midlands" in November 2007. The Master Plan sets
out a framework for the sustainable development of Birmingham
Airport up to 2030. It illustrates how the Airport intends to
meet the regional demand for air travel over the plan period of
12. Sitting beside the Master Plan is the Airport
Surface Access Strategy entitled "Moving Together"
(see the Surface Access Strategy section for more details).
13. The Airport's Master Plan is a response to
the 2003 Government White Paper "The Future of Air Transport",
which projected the demand for aviation growth across the UK up
until the year 2030. The strategic advantages of Birmingham Airport
with its proximity to motorways and the rail network are recognised
in the White Paper.
14. The Airport Company recognises that changes
in Government Policy towards aviation in the South East, together
with proposals for HS2 (neither of which are reflected in the
Master Plan or Surface Access Strategy) could have a fundamental
effect on its customer base in future years. However, with the
current runway infrastructure, Birmingham has the capacity to
expand beyond the projections set out in the Master Plan.
15. Birmingham Airport's site hosts over 140
businesses, and supports over 6,000 people. The Airport has a
positive effect on the regional economy, by acting as an International
16. Birmingham Airport hosts over 40 Airlines,
and serves over a 100 direct destinations with hundreds more by
connecting flights. It is very capable and can even accommodate
A380-the World's biggest Airliner.
17. By 2014 a Runway Extension will provide more
direct long-haul capability where it is neededand will
make Birmingham as capable as any other Western European Airport.
18. In May 2011, the Secretary of State for Transport
opened the "new airport"which has the capacity
to take another nine million passengers immediately. The Airport's
Master Plan envisages this figure rising to 27 million by 2030,
and it is a matter of record that over 30 million passengers per
annum can be catered for off a single runway.
19. Thus between now and the 2030s, it is reasonable
to conclude that Birmingham Airport at least the same capacity
of that which would have been provided by a third, short runway
at Heathrow. At best, Birmingham Airport is probably only realising
about a third of its potential as a transport node.
20. This provides a tremendous opportunity for
those planning and integrating National Infrastructure.
21. Birmingham has the best road and rail connectivity
of any UK Airport and it is a winning combination; however to
maximise use of a scarce national resource, it will be essential
to maintain and improve such connectivity in the future.
22. Road connectivity is good and will benefit
from upgrading in future years; it is recognised this is outside
of the scope of the current enquiry.
23. The current West Coast Rail Franchise, which
offers links to London, is reaching capacity. Journey times between
London and Birmingham are only six minutes shorter than they were
in the 1970s.
24. A typical journey from Birmingham International
to Euston takes 70 minutes; the airport has suggested that the
next franchisee might offer a "headline" time of 59
25. Rail Links to Derby, Sheffield, East Midlands
and the Northwest are often slow and uncompetitive when compared
to road travel.
26. Longer term, HS2 has the ability to mitigate
all of these issues; either by releasing capacity on the "classic"
network, or by providing direct services with attractive journey
HS2 SERVING BIRMINGHAM
27. Birmingham Interchangelocated at or
very close to Birmingham Airport and the National Exhibition Centre
would provide additional connectivity. New direct rail services
from across the region could link with High Speed Rail as well
as international flights.
28. The Passenger Transport Authority, CENTRO,
recognises the opportunities afforded by creating such a node.
29. Birmingham Interchange also provides a channel
for the South East to access additional aviation capacity (Birmingham
Airport has significant spare capacity and thus is a valuable
resource to be exploited).
30. Without Birmingham Interchange, there is
a risk of long-term economic decline across one of the most successful
parts of the Midlands. There is also a risk of unintended consequences.
Our Airport Master Plan to 2030 envisages the creation of thousands
of jobsboth at the Airport and in the wider region. The
same situation applies at the adjacent National Exhibition Centre.
It is essential that modern transport links are maintained, and
that best use is made of Strategic National Assets.
31. Our stance on High Speed Rail is that it
complements Air Travel. Whilst we are very supportive of a station
in Central Birmingham we believe that there are very compelling
reasons why the Birmingham Interchange should also be adopted.
32. Birmingham Interchange would provide connectivity
over and above that provided in central Birmingham. For instance,
North Warwickshire and Coventry would be economic beneficiaries
(not least through the continued employment of many of their population
at the Airport/NEC), as well as those located around the Midlands
"Motorway Box", for whom travel to Birmingham City Centre
would be problematic not just to themselves but to the capability
of the A38 infrastructure and to City-Centre parking.
33. A recent survey by the British Chambers of
Commerce suggested that 44% of Businesses in the West Midlands
would use Central Birmingham, whilst 56% would use a station at
or near the Airport/NEC.
34. Birmingham Interchange, located at or very
close to Birmingham Airport and the National Exhibition Centre
(where there is already a "main line" station), would
not only provide additional connectivity to the wider region,
and link with an existing transport hub; it would also "plug
in" to the M42 corridoracknowledged as a major economic
driver of the region
and the only significant location in the Midlands which outperforms
National GVA. It would also provide a route to additional aviation
35. Surface accessincluding High Speed
Railwill be key to the development of Birmingham Airport
and the economic regeneration of the Midlands. The current published
Airport Surface Access Strategy
does not reflect HS2 or any changes in Government Policy, and
it is being reviewed in the light of emerging policy.
36. The Airport is not wedded to one mode of
transport. Just as rail is not a panacea, neither is roador
air. Each mode should be used to best advantage. The alternative
to HS2 would appear to be very significant increases in the UK
Motorway network, with consequent land take (perhaps three times
that of HS2).
37. Adding additional tracks alongside the existing
Victorian Infrastructure would destroy the heart of many towns
that owe their existence or expansion to the railways. It would
also be expensive and as the £9 billion upgrade of the
West Coast route demonstrated, it might not deliver the intended
outcomes. The Airport doubts whether this approach would deliver
a truly High-Speed, High-Capacity railway.
38. The above approach would not release capacity
to permit the development of new routes (for example, those that
would use part of the current WCML for an element of their journey)for
Example, Kenilworth to Birmingham International, Leicester to
39. Further upgrade to the existing infrastructure
will, in any case, be required to ease existing "bottlenecks
and pinch-points". This is already happening.
40. With regard to reported cost, the Airport's
view is that Crossrail is spending about £2 billion
per year on a commuter railway through
central London and its suburbs. As that £17 billion
+ project is completed, we would envisage that £2 billion
per annum would "roll forward" annually to High Speed
41. It would appear equitable that investment
also be made outside of London, which reportedly has a disproportionately
subsidised transport infrastructure, compared to the rest of the
42. The Government has already suggested that
Airports in the South East should be "better not bigger".
Without pre-empting the outcome of the forthcoming review, it
is reasonable to assume that at least part of it might seek to
make better use of existing resources. Existing resources, such
as Birmingham, can be unlockedso long as they are integrated
into a wider transport network, and provided that awareness is
THE UK ECONOMY
43. Many commentators seem to consider HS2's
primary aviation role to be as a feeder to Heathrow Airport. This
appears anomalous to the "Better not Bigger" agenda,
and counter to plans to rebalance the UK economy.
44. However, the use of HS2, to match aviation
demand with spare capacity, could bring very significant regional
economic benefits and would be in line with the Government's desire
to rebalance the economy.
45. Whilst Birmingham provides an early opportunity
to integrate HSR and Aviation, there are other airportswith
significant spare capacitycapable of being linked to the
High Speed Rail network.
46. It is possible that some Airports will remain
silent on the issue of High-Speed Rail, as they have to remain
sensitive to their relationships with their Airline customers.
47. As High Speed Rail develops, it should be
regarded as complementary to Aviation, and not necessarily as
a replacement. High Speed Rail should be used to connect a network
of International Gatewaysoffering choice to consumers and
airlines, and providing balanced economic growth.
48. It is important that London's largest Airport
have a link to the High-Speed network. However, it is unclear
which terminal would be served by High Speed Rail.
49. Depending on which terminal was selected,
it is possible that changing from HS2 to an enhanced "shuttle"
service from Old Oak Common would offer the quickest alternative
for people travelling to the majority of the terminals at Heathrow.
In other words, the optimal solution (both in cost and journey
times) may not be a direct link using HS2 trains.
50. Any link to Heathrow should not be to the
detriment of everyone travelling from the North to London and
beyond. If every HS2 train were to be diverted via Heathrow (with,
reportedly, nine minutes extra journey time or more), one suspects
that this would have a very significant negative effect on productivity
and on the overall business case for HS2.
51. Awareness increases through a variety of
methods; these include end-to-end ticketing (what is the difference
between flying New York-Heathrow and catching a train to London,
and Flying New York-Birmingham and catching a train to London?)
the possibility of a "congestion charge" for very busy
airports (leading to the creation of secondary markets elsewhere),
and of course adequate marketing activity.
52. High Speed Rail and Aviation should be integrated
for the purpose of journey planning and ticketing. This already
happens in Germany, with a very forward-looking partnership between
Lufthansa and Deutsche Bahn. Airline-style tickets are issued,
which include some legs by rail, and others by air.
53. Integration of UK domestic rail into Aviation's
Global Distribution systems would be a pre-requisite of changing
travel behaviours, and bringing more choice on price and journey
time to the market. For High-Speed rail to be properly integrated
into a Global Transport system, through ticketing will be essential.
54. Successful integration of air and rail also
depends upon a number of critical factors including interchange
location, ease of interchange, service frequency, baggage management
and wider connectivity. Air passengers will not be tempted onto
HSR unless it is capable of providing efficient and seamless airport
connections. This includes seamless security, baggage handling,
border control and other associated security issues.
55. Such a process should begin now, with the
existing domestic rail system. However, it is not clear who act
as catalyst and lead such a project or whether it would work on
a voluntary basis, as it would almost certainly meet resistance
in some areas. This is a matter for Government to decide.
56. Changing transport behaviours and travel
patterns, through policy and effective marketing of choice, can
start a confidence-building exercise that will demonstrate to
stakeholders, a microcosm of what HS2 might bring.
57. In Birmingham Airport's case, a greater willingness
to engage on the part of the West Coast franchisee (perhaps to
include through ticketing and joint marketing), could lead to
mutual and measurable benefits.
58. A greater willingness of the Control Authorities
to work on remote "check in" and clearance might simplify
procedures on arrival and contribute to the "seamless experience".
59. With hard data available, the Airport and
its shareholders may be in a better position to evaluate the benefits
of investing in a future joint Airport/HS2 Terminal at the HS2
60. It is important to trial new systems and
working practices within the existing system, to create an "evidence
base" for potential future investment.
61. HSR investment should be additional to, not
at the expense of, other much-needed-investment in rail (for example,
the required measures to address congestion at the "Northern
Hub", which affects the whole northern region, or the "four
tracking" of the similarly-congested Birmingham to Coventry
62. Birmingham Airport supports High Speed 2
and the creation of a High-Speed Rail network for Great Britain.
However, transport modes are not mutually exclusive, and they
must be better integrated if they are to be fit for purpose in
the mid 21st Century. Customers should have a seamless journey
experience, and should be able to easily access through journey
informationincluding times and prices.
63. It is important that the customer-service
attributes (including through ticketing, security/customs clearance
etc) for the High-Speed Network are trialled and any issues resolved,
within the current rail structure.
64. The new InterCity West Coast Franchise (to
be let in 2012, and currently being negotiated) would appear to
be an excellent test bed for any proposals. It is suggested that
there is still opportunity to build some of the above concepts
into that franchise.
65. Birmingham Airport would be willing to work
with airlines and with the franchise operator on issues of mutual
interest, provided that there is Government support and encouragement
for the process.
446 http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.dft.gov.uk/about/strategy/whitepapers/ Back
Great Britain Timetable 1974, table 66. Journey time 89-91 minutes
every half hour. 2011 Virgin Trains Timetable-84-85 minutes, every
20 minutes. Back
See Realising the Potential of the M42 Corridor, Final Report
to Advantage West Midlands, most pages but page 17 for GVA.