Engineering advisers slammed high speed rail as an alternative to building new runways last week.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Infrastructure (APPGI) heard from leading civil engineers on the need to expand the UK’s airport capacity. “You need large passenger flows to justify heavy rail,” said Mott MacDonald director for aviation strategy and aviation adviser to the House of Commons All Party Aviation Group Laurie Price.
“If you put down 3km of road or 3km of rail, you can go 3km. If you put down 3km of runway, you can take 37M people to the world. You need a lot of railway to serve what a runway can provide.”
“High speed [rail] is a serious offering that we need to develop in the UK,” said Arup airport leader and ICE Airport Infrastructure Panel member Peter Budd. “However to get a regular and robust service out of airports, they should be operating around 60%. High speed will not reduce our airport operating capacity from 98% to 60%.”
Price urged the MPs present to bring forward construction of a new runway, but APPGI chair and former construction minister Nick Raynsford said it was at present too unacceptable to the voting public.
London mayor Boris Johnson’s proposal for a new airport in the Thames estuary was discussed but roundly dismissed. For the Thames estuary airport to work, it is believed that Heathrow would need to close, leading to mass job losses in the Heathrow area.