High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill

Written Evidence f rom Airport Operators Association (HSR 16)

1. The Airport Operators Association (AOA) is the trade association that represents UK airports. Its mission is to see UK airports grow sustainably. It represents the views of UK airports to Government, Parliament and Regulators to secure policy outcomes that help deliver our mission.

2. The AOA initially submitted evidence to the Department for Transport consultation on High Speed Rail (HSR) in July 2011. By way of a brief follow-up to that submission, we have set out our current thoughts on the scheme in this note.

3. The AOA supports investment in all types of public transport infrastructure, whether aviation, rail, road or others. The benefits to business and individuals of better transport infrastructure are well documented. In addition to providing more infrastructure, HSR potentially offers the opportunity to better integrate air and rail infrastructure. The AOA supports the proposal for HS2, linking key urban centres throughout the country, so long as it is affordable and its costs contained and budgeted for.

4. The 2006 Eddington Transport Study [1] looked at the relationship between transport investment and economic growth in detail. Eddington reviewed the best available research on transport and economic growth and concluded that investment in transport infrastructure had a complex relationship with growth. It affected it in a number of ways, such as by increasing business efficiency, encouraging investment and innovation, making labour markets more flexible, and increasing competition and trade.

5. Eddington further noted that while standard cost benefit analyses can estimate overall gains in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), by investing in transport, there are also a number of "micro drivers" such as those set out above that are important. Eddington recommended that the benefits of these factors should also be considered when appraising new transport schemes.

6. AOA supports the Government’s proposal for a new HSR line providing connectivity for surface and air travel to and from key urban centres in the UK. We believe that the line will result in more people residing within the catchment area of UK airports, improving both their and airports’ connectivity.

7. The Government should continue to progress plans for HSR, but only on the provision that they remain affordable.

8. HSR should not be seen as a replacement for short haul and domestic air journeys. Unlike airports that can, broadly speaking, be connected to any other airport on earth by the establishment of an air route, rail depends on geographically fixed infrastructure - a track which cannot simply link any two points in the UK, particularly where there is a major sea crossing involved.

9. The AOA supports maximum connectivity and integration across the network, with airports directly connected to the HSR network.

10. HSR’s environmental benefits, compared with aviation, should not be overstated. By 2050, even with an extensive and fully integrated European HSR network, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC – the Government’s independent adviser on climate change) has estimated that less than 2% of aviation’s emissions will be saved by passengers switching to HSR. [2]

July 2013


[1] Eddington Transport Study, 2006, HMSO

[2] Committee on Climate Change, Aviation Report, 2009. See: http://www.theccc.org.uk/reports/aviation-report pp.66-82

Prepared 16th July 2013