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Bristol Airport planning for £2.5bn mass transit system

Bristol airfield

Bristol Airport is planning for construction of a £2.5bn mass transit system as part of a drive to improve surface access transport links between the airport and the city centre.

Bristol Airport planning and sustainability director Simon Earles said Bristol must improve its public transport if it is going to expand.

The airport is looking to double its annual passenger numbers by 2040 and is preparing a plan to set out how it will accommodate that growth.

A joint transport plan is being developed by Bristol local authorities and once that is in place, the Treasury will be approached with a funding request for local transport improvements. These could include a mass transit rail system with underground sections.

“If the region [West of England] is going to continue to be the goose that lays the golden egg for the Treasury, the congestion has got to be unlocked in the region,” said Earles.

“We need the help from government. The ask is small on policy, the ask – we believe – is also small on surface access and the big challenge for me in my job and for Bristol is: we are trying to get the airport onto the public transport map.”

He added: “That will require a mass transit intervention from Bristol City out to the airport, but we now have the mayor of Bristol saying it’s a top priority for him and he wants it done in 10 years. So we’ll see what the appetite in the region is to make that happen.”

Bristol mayor Marvin Rees publicly backed the plans last December, while the mass transit rail system has appeared in a joint transport plan for the West of England.

The mass transit system would include three lines through the city including one running between Bristol Airport and the city centre to relieve pressure on local transport infrastructure.

Earles said the airport is also hoping to link up to Bristol’s delayed guided busway system. He was speaking at the UK Airport Infrastructure Development Forum in London.

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