Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Heathrow needs third runway and fast rail hub

Arup chairman Philip Dilley this week renewed calls for public investment in high speed rail while urging the Conservatives not to scrap plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport.

Dilley said politicians should back the most appropriate transport infrastructure solutions rather than identifying rail routes or airport solutions in isolation.

“We need transport solutions, not airport or rail solutions,” he said. “Let’s look at the whole transport system for the UK.” Dilley said that the Conservatives’ pledge to scrap plans for a third runway at Heathrow was disappointing and unnecessary.

“Why be so black and white about this? There needs to be a review.”

Philip Dilley, Arup

“Certainly they [the Conservatives] need to act responsibly and to balance the needs of the country with the economy. But why be so black and white about this?” he said. “There needs to be a review.”

Arup has already ploughed several million pounds into the development of its so-called “Heathrow Hub” − a north-south high speed rail route and transport interchange at the airport. This option is believed to be under consideration as part of the government-backed High Speed 2 (HS2) rail investigation but was not considered as part of Network Rail’s published plans for a high speed route (NCE 3 September).

Political and technical debates

However, Dilley said he was confident that the Heathrow Hub proposal stacked up and would eventually emerge as a serious contender as it met many of both Labour and Tory transport objectives. HS2’s preliminary investigation report will be passed to transport secretary Lord Adonis in December. This is likely to trigger a fresh round of political and technical debates over routes leading to a preferred route option.

Dilley warned that the General Election would inevitably cause a short delay of three of four months but said: “The money will clearly be tough to find but I’ll be surprised if high speed rail doesn’t have a future.”

Readers' comments (2)

  • Let's not dalley on yesterday's news, Dilley - part of the Solution to the Heathrow problem is a High-Speed Rail link so that people can 'Fly the Train'. The other part is called Birmingham. In less time than it takes to walk from one side of 'Horrible Heathrow' to the other - 38 minutes - High-Speed Rail could get you to Birmingham Airport. Birmingham could take another 9 Million Passengers tomorrow (ie within existing infrastructure), and the Master Plan to 2030 sees 18 million more passengers using Birmingham. Theresa Villiers has publicly suggested that Birmingham could perform this role. Talk to your ARUP colleagues in Solihull, and you might get a less London-Centric view of the World!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • A third runway at Heathrow is not the only method of relieving the South-East’s capacity pressures. Last year Birmingham International Airport handled 9.6 million passengers and has the capacity to carry many more. Birmingham Airport could reduce dependence on Heathrow, and its current configuration could cope with another 9 million passengers immediately.

    It is a primary gateway to the region and its appeal will only increase due to High Speed Rail (HS2), especially to those passengers in the South-East as London could be just 38 minutes away. A Planning Application to extend the main runway by 405 metres was approved in March 2009 and this will only serve to further enhance Birmingham Airport and reaffirm its ability to meet demand whilst generating sustainable long term economic growth. Stations in Central Birmingham and at the Airport are part of proposals for a high speed route and it is important we capitalise on the potential opportunities ahead by turning such proposals into a reality. The Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Theresa Villiers, has recognised the city's ability in the HS2 process and the Airport’s potential, and it is essential that decision-makers take stock of our location at the heart of England.

    Jerry Blackett, CEO, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.