Expansion at what cost? Heathrow publishes masterplan


Heathrow Airport has launched its masterplan for a third runway, with measures to manage emissions and noise but few concrete proposals for public transport improvements.

The statutory consultation reveals plans for the airport’s growth in phases – from runway opening in approximately 2026, to the masterplan end in approximately 2050.

The new runway would go over the M25

Heathrow said little on its own contribution to improving public transport, highlighting existing services and government plans. It also said it expects to meet its mode share targets by ‘working with operators’ to increase bus and coach journeys.

The consultation document cites proposed schemes for a Western Rail Link and Southern Rail Access to Heathrow as ‘existing commitments’ and includes Crossrail and Piccadilly Line enhancements as new routes.

It states: ‘These improvements are not part of our expansion proposals; however, we will work with promoters to ensure these schemes meet the needs of airport passengers and colleagues.’

Heathrow has not stated what its contribution to these new rail links would be. A spokesperson told Transport Network that the airport would pay its ‘fair share’, pointing out that it would not just be airport users that would benefit from them.

A specific document on surface access states: ‘We can deliver our mode share targets without Western and Southern Rail Links’. It adds: ‘We can do this through targeted improvements to bus and coach services and by varying the level of our vehicle access charge we can do this through targeted improvements to bus and coach services and by varying the level of our vehicle access charge.'

Heathrow said it will put income from road user charges towards improving public transport, raising the possibility that passengers, rather than the airport, will pay for new rail links.

The airport has pledged that there will be no increase in airport-related traffic on nearby roads under expansion and has a requirement to increase the proportion of trips made to the airport by passengers by public transport to at least 50% by 2030.

Construction and public transport vehicles will not be counted as 'airport-related' traffic, Heathrow said.

The airport highlighted previously announced ambitions for an Ultra Low Emissions Zone and eventual vehicle access charge and a proposed 6.5-hour ban on scheduled night flights.

Emma Gilthorpe, Heathrow’s executive director for expansion, said: ‘Expansion must not come at any cost. That is why we have been working with partners at the airport, in local communities and in Government to ensure our plans show how we can grow sustainably and responsibly – with environmental considerations at the heart of expansion.’


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