Written evidence from Gatwick Airport
Limited (HSR 40)|
1. Gatwick Airport Limited (Gatwick Airport)
welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Transport Select Committee's
inquiry into High Speed Rail. Gatwick Airport is well placed
to respond to this inquiry given that it is the UK's second largest
airport and best connected UK airport. We are the busiest single-runway
airport in the world, with more than 31 million passengers to
over 200 destinations in 90 countries for short haul, long haul
and charter airlines.
2. Gatwick is a major economic driver for the
South-East region, directly contributing around £2 billion
annually to the UK economy,
in addition to £360 million that our passengers currently
pay in direct tax on their journeys. The airport supports 23,000
on-airport jobs and a further 13,000 jobs through related activities.
In addition to the direct economic wealth that we generate, we
also support 9% of the UK's inbound tourism market.
Our £1 billion investment programme is already underway and
will directly improve the overall passenger experience, and in
turn enhance the airport's contribution to national, regional
and local economic growth. Gatwick is the best connected major
airport into the heart of government and City of London. It is
situated 28 miles south of London with excellent public transport
links, including the award winning Gatwick Express. Gatwick is
owned by a number of international investment funds, of which
Global Infrastructure Partners is the largest shareholder.
supports the construction of HS2, but we would also urge the Government
to focus on the provision of current generation of rail infrastructure
that is needed today, particularly in the South East and on the
Brighton Main Line, where no additional line capacity is currently
proposed to meet surging future rail demand. HS2 will not address
this need and will only form a part of Britain's future rail requirements.
construction of HS2 is not a valid reason to restrict new runway
capacity at airports in the South East. Government forecasts show
that 70 million passengers will want to travel to and from South
East airports by 2030. They will not be able to do so without
that capacity. HS2, and the connectivity that it may provide to
Europe via new high speed rail links is no effective substitute
for the shortfall in airport capacity in the South East hat the
serves the largest number of domestic locations of any UK airport.
We do not see domestic aviation as a primary market for growth.
Placing an element of the business case for HS2 around a perceived
growth in demand for domestic aviation, and a policy objective
to curb it, does not reflect our understanding of current market
conditions. The view that HS2 would automatically lead to a wholesale
move away from the use of air travel to short haul European destinations
requires further scrutiny.
Government's proposals for the strategic route for HS2 are generally
sound, but should also seek to improve access to international
gateways, including Gatwick airport as well as Heathrow. This
would not require any change to the currently proposed HS2 route
and could be accommodated using existing or already planned rail
correlation between the reduction of carbon emissions from aviation,
and the construction of HS2, is less clear than the Government
envisions. In the long term, the best way to reduce emissions
from aviation is not through moving air passengers on to high
speed trains, but through a constructive approach by Government
to incentivising the up-take of low-carbon technology by UK airlines.
3. There is an urgent need to promote improved
regional connectivity between different parts of the country.
High Speed Rail is essential to meeting this need. Major cities
in the Midlands, the North of England and Scotland should be able
to derive more of the benefits that the economic strength of London
generates for the UK. We concur with the Eddington Transport Study
(2006) that "a comprehensive and high-performing transport
system is an important enabler of sustained economic prosperity".
HS2 will be an important step in meeting the criteria that Eddington
laid down. HS2 will be a necessary in the course of promoting
the greater regional connectivity essential to future economic
growth, and we fully support its construction.
4. The aviation sector contributes £53.3
billion (3.8%) to UK GDP.
For the West Midlands region alone, HS2 is projected to provide
£17 billion of economic benefits.
Together, these transport modes will form the UK's future critical
transport infrastructure. Much of the debate on the case for and
against HS2 has focused on a perceived need to transition from
air to rail. There is a danger that these two transport modes
are seen purely competing against each other.
5. Air and High Speed Rail are not necessarily
competing modes of transport. The complementary capabilities of
these two modes together can satisfy principal requirements of
We urge policymakers to recognise this and exploit the potential
of both to promote growth. HS2 and a future strategy for air travel
should be part of a wider national transport strategy. They should
not simply be juxtaposed as "one mode over another"
either in the context of domestic, or short haul international
travel. This focus applies not just to HS2, which will not be
complete until the middle of the next decade, but on the rail
network as it exists today.
6. In geographical terms, Britain will always
require a comprehensive network of air services as rail will remain
unattractive for destinations in southern or eastern Europe (see
paragraph 12). The development of the rail sector needs to be
considered alongside the development of the aviation sector. A
truly integrated air-rail network should be a primary goal of
the overall HS2 project. The HS2 network should be seen as complementary
to existing transport modes, rather than isolation of them.
THE HS2 BUSINESS
7. The committee have indicated that they would
like to focus on the potential implications for domestic aviation
from the construction of HS2, and how that impact might support
the overall business case for HS2. As the airport with the largest
number of domestic routes in the UK, we feel well qualified to
comment on these particular assumptions.
8. Gatwick does not see domestic aviation as
a primary market for growth. We have seen a number of our airline
customers take the decision to either cancel or reduce frequency
of domestic routes in recent months. Those decisions have been
taken entirely by the operators concerned for commercial reasons.
For example, domestic routes from Gatwick to Leeds/Bradford and
Plymouth were recently cancelled. We see our primary areas for
future growth being short haul and long haulprimarily point
to pointinternational destinations, rather than domestic
9. Our most recent forecasts indicate that the
total proportion of domestic flights operating to and from Gatwick
will fall over the next 10 years, while the total number of long
haul flights will double by 2025. These calculations do not take
account of whether there may or may not be a new high speed rail
network in place in that period. The overall proportion of domestic
flights to and from Gatwick is already falling. The projection
that there will be an overall increase of 178% in the number of
domestic aviation passengers by 2033
exceeds the trends that Gatwick sees in terms of future traffic
to and from domestic locations. We believe those forecasts may
be revised in the light of future air travel forecasts to 2043.
But these are not currently in the public domain.
10. The Civil Aviation Authority illustrate the
same trend, that overall domestic air traffic to and from London
is already falling, and has done so since 2005. The issue of whether
the business case for HS2 should in part be based on a policy
objective to, either in part or whole, curb a projected growth
in domestic aviation deserves further scrutiny.
11. From a "short haul" international
perspective, we note Ministers recent statements to the effect
that the Government see the further introduction of high speed
rail services as a way of reducing the number of flights taken
to European destinations
from the South East, and that that "the development of a
high speed rail network has been a key factor in our decision
on additional runways at London's airports".
12. We would urge the Government to take account
of credible and thorough research that suggests that, Europe wide,
a journey distance of between 500 to 800 km
is the maximum range within which a passenger might choose high
speed rail over a direct air travel alternative. Whilst this research
was conducted some time ago, and focuses on a Europe-wide rather
than a UK-centric view, we believe it would be prudent for the
Government to review all available research to consider whether
its current view reflects the evidence-base. Documents that outline
the economic case for HS2 only appear to consider the potential
impact on domestic air routes.
13. We have seen no evidence that a thorough
and independent review of the impact that HS2 might have on short
haul international air travel from London's airports has taken
place. Ministers have publicly stated that the Governments support
for HS2 is based in part on a modal shift from aviation to rail
for such short haul routes. Evidence of why passengers are likely
to make such choices should be produced. The business case for
HS2 would be strengthened by an updated analysis being undertaken
and placed in the public domain.
14. For example, Ministers have publicly stated
that the impending introduction of High Speed Rail routes from
London to Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Cologne could effectively mean
that there would no need for the 140,000 flights a year that currently
serve these three destinations from airports in the South East.
This is by no means the case. Substantive analysis indicates that
there would only be a 16% shift from air to rail on a direct Amsterdam-Paris-Brussels-London
high speed rail route.
Likewise, Both Frankfurt and Cologne are within a distance range
from London where a passenger choosing high speed rail over air
is by no means automatic.
15. We would also seek further clarification,
and the publication of a clear evidence base, to support the Ministers
statements to the effect that passengers travelling by currently
air to short haul European destinations, or a proportion of them,
would transfer wholesale to rail following the completion of HS2.
16. In the course of clarifying the basis and
origin of this view, the Government must recognise that there
are a range of other factors that impact on passengers' choice
of travel mode, over and above time, distance and speed. Baggage,
queuing, security, comfort and safety are all key issues that
determine the choice that they make. The South East Airports Taskforce,
under the direction of Ministers in the Department for Transport,
is rightly considering how major airports in the South East can
improve the provision they are making to improve the passenger
experience in these areas.
17. Since it changed ownership, Gatwick has invested
nearly £1 billion on facilities that will improve the passenger
experience. This investment is already bearing tangible results.
Our passengers wait less than five minutes to clear airport security
97% of the time. Likewise, on airport check-in, we have successfully
introduced a new approach that gives passengers complete control
of the check-in process. Through it, passengers can check-in and
tag their own bags, dramatically reducing the potential for queues
to build up. In the first five months of the service, take-up
by customers of the airline that use it has up the system has
increased from 35% of passengers to 85% and transaction times
have reduced from 2 minutes to just 20 seconds. Other airlines
are introducing the system in recognition of its success. The
view that high speed rail offers a better passenger experience
in terms of queuing times and overall passenger care needs to
18. We would suggest that while HS2 would be
of benefit to the UK as a whole, a new network is not in of itself
a substitute for satisfying the increasing demand for additional
capacity at London's airports. The Department for Transport still
projects that air passenger numbers in the UK will grow to about
455 million passengers a year by 2030. 250 million of them would
use airports in the South East.
As matters stand, there will inevitably be substantial suppressed
demand for runway capacity in the South East. By 2030, 70 million
air passengers will want to fly to and from the South East but
will not be able to.
19. We remain unconvinced that the needs of these
70 million passengers will be wholly catered for by a new High
Speed Rail network. The Government has stated that HS2 will lead
to six million air passengers transferring to rail from air travel.
We understand those six million passengers to be domestic in nature,
although no actual clarity is
provided around where they might have considered flying to and
from in this scenario. Regardless of the specifics of this forecast,
the fact remains that providing scope for six million passengers
to move from air to rail through building HS2 still leaves 64
million air passengers who want to travel by air but cannot, because
of limited runway capacity in the South East.
20. Since the Governments consultation was published
in February, further documents have been published by HS2 Ltd.
which outline that by 2043, of "the total passengers forecast
to use HS2, 6% will switch from air".
We are unclear as to exactly what forecast this number refers
to, as the document concerned only provides a clear forecast for
projected number of passengers on the London to West-Midlands
element of the HS2 route, on which no air routes (either from
Gatwick or elsewhere) currently operate.
21. Ministers have, more generally, stated that
"providing a viable rail substitute for even a modest proportion
of [flights in the South East] could release significant capacity
at our crowded airports".
Departmental forecasts for future air passengers, Gatwick's analysis,
and a significant body of research around passenger behaviour
show the accuracy of that view to be in some doubt. Gatwick have
no current plans for additional runway capacity at our airport.
Gatwick is party to a legally binding agreement that no such runway
capacity will be built before 2019. We intend to adhere to that
agreement. Despite this, we continue to believe that HS2 is should
not be seen as a direct substitute for additional airport capacity
in the South East in the long term.
22. The Government has taken the right approach
to integrating the new High Speed Rail network with the UK's airports.
The fact that Birmingham, Heathrow and Manchester will all have
direct links and stations is recognition of the view we express
in paragraph 5. Broadly, a Y-shaped network built using "London
upwards" approach using the phasing described appears appropriate.
23. Nevertheless, we believe that there is potential
for the Government to take this approach further, and ensure that,
in the course of the construction of HS2, all the potential
economic benefits from the truly integrated air-rail transport
infrastructure that HS2 heralds are maximised. Currently, there
are no proposals for either a direct, or indirect, link between
Gatwick Airport, which is the second largest airport in terms
of passengers in the country, and a future national High Speed
24. We accept that the provision of a direct
link, through a change in the currently proposed HS2 route, is
likely to be unfeasible and financially prohibitive. However,
the proposals fail to consider how Gatwick can be accessed by
a connecting rail service to the Old Oak Common interchange in
a way that has been proposed for Heathrow Airport. Opportunities
for the nation's two largest airports to be connected to HS2 are
essential in the course of promoting encouraging sustainable access
to UK airports by the general public, and maintaining a positive
competitive environment between the two largest airports in the
25. We believe that it would be relatively simple,
and comparatively inexpensive, for Gatwick to be indirectly linked
to HS2 via a rail service to the proposed new station at Old Oak
Common. The existing track infrastructure for such a link already
exists. In order to support a direct link between Gatwick and
Old Oak Common, track infrastructure at Clapham Junction and on
a section of the West London
Line would need to be enhanced to support longer trains and greater
service capacity. Incorporation of such a service requirement
into the overall design plans for the new station at Old Oak Common
would also need to be facilitated. This could take the form of
some additional terminating platform capacity at the proposed
station over and above that which is already planned as part of
Network Rail's London and South East Draft Route Utilisation Strategy.
Through initial informal discussions with Network Rail, it is
our understanding that initial estimated costs of the necessary
line upgrades would be in the region of £15 million.
26. Network Rail is including, within its proposed
spending plans for 2014-19 (known as CP5), some funding to provide
improved service performance on the West London Line. We would
urge the committee to consider, as part of its assessment of the
strategic route for HS2, a recommendation around the potential
for an inclusion of the required funding in a further funding
to amend the design of the proposed station at Old Oak Common
so that it can accommodate a direct, half-hourly service from
Gatwick Airport as well as serving Heathrow airport. In this way,
the projected 40 million passengers a year that we may be carrying
by the time that HS2 is operating would be able to effectively
access a future HS2 route.
27. We believe that such a link would have substantive
benefits over and above Gatwick Airport passengers enjoying an
indirect link to HS2. Over one million passengers use the airport
rail station every year who are not air passengers, with 900 trains
arriving and departing every day. The station is a local rail
hub in is own right and is the busiest airport railway station
in the UK. The potential for those living in major cities on the
South Coast such as Portsmouth and Brighton to make use of HS2
would be improved by Gatwick having indirect link to the HS2 network.
There would be substantive benefits to an entire region of the
UK through an indirect link from Gatwick Airport to the proposed
HS2 station at Old Oak Common.
28. Whilst the requirement for such a service
would ordinarily be considered as part of future Rail Utilisation
Strategies (RUS) and new rail franchises for the London and South
East Region, we believe that in the context of constructing an
integrated air-rail transport infrastructure that is fit for the
21st Century, the committee should examine how access to HS2 from
airports over and above Heathrow, Birmingham and Manchester could
be facilitated within the scope of its report and how HS2 can
support airports in delivering their Surface Access Strategies.
29. As stated, we do not believe that the construction
of HS2 will lead to the modal shift from air travel to rail that
the Government appear to envisage. For Gatwick, other elements
of the business case for HS2 are more compelling. In the long
term, demand for further capacity at South East airports will
continue to grow. Even if, in some way, it was shown to be feasible
for that capacity to be provided at airports outside the South
it is apparent that unless the Government takes an innovative
approach to incentivising new technology that might lead to a
reduction in overall levels of carbon emissions generated by aviation,
those emissions may continue to increase regardless of whether
HS2 is built or not.
30. Public policy that seeks to reduce overall
carbon emissions through encouraging a modal shift away from aviation
through the construction of HS2 is unlikely to be effective, and
should not be justified on that basis. In a recent submission
to the Environmental Audit Committee Inquiry "Budget 2011
& Environmental Taxes", we outlined our view that,
in the long term, we believe that the most viable long term option
available to the aviation sector to drive real carbon savings
is through the further development of and widespread deployment
of bio-fuels amongst major airlines. This is a concept that has
been largely proven to be technically feasible.
31. Measures to promote a transition to bio-fuels
must be considered in a global context. The industry is after
all, global in scope. Worldwide, existing airlines fleets are
thought total around 23,000 aircraft. Total investment in this
fleet is thought to in the region of billions or even trillions
of dollars. Aircraft have a typical life of 25 to 30 years, meaning
that significant fraction of the current fleet will be operational
to 2020 or even 2030 and beyond. This long life cycle and high
cost, coupled with stringent certification requirements for fuels,
mean that airlines are generally not willing to consider any fuel
that is not an immediate, or drop-in, replacement for current,
petroleum-derived jet fuel.
32. A significant amount of research and development
activity on whether biofuels could be a "drop in" replacement
for conventional jet fuel has been undertaken. It is apparent
that, in principle, it is possible they could be. However, widespread
installation of the infrastructure required to bring the fuel
to the aircraft is necessary before biofuels could be considered
as the "drop in" replacement for conventional jet fuel
that is necessary before a mass conversion could take place. Gatwick
is working closely with onsite fuel providers to put that infrastructure
in place at our own airport. We already have some capacity to
deliver it on site. But there is currently no real financial incentive
for our airlines to move towards using it on a significant scale.
There is a role for Government, in the tax system for incentivising
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