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Plea for HS2 airport link strategy

Plane jpg

MPs have called for a clear strategy for linking the £56bn High Speed 2 line to Britain’s airports.

The cross-party Transport Committee said the rapid rail line from London to Manchester and Leeds should be used to boost access to departure lounges.

The committee’s Surface Transport to Airports study found that poor surface access restricted growth as well as damaging customer satisfaction and the environment.

“It remains an issue of concern to us that having committed to spending £55bn on the HS2 rail project—which we welcome – the Department of Transport has provided no evidence of how it plans to best leverage the new capacity generated by the project to deliver improvements to our key international gateways, particularly our airports,” said the report.

“We recommend that the government draw up plans showing how the HS2 network will link to regional airports so that the plans being drawn up by airports, local authorities and Network Rail can take this into account and individual projects can be prioritised accordingly.”

MPs on the panel said the government should require Network Rail and Highways England to show they had considered airport surface access strategies. They also recommended that the National Infrastructure Commission worked with local organisations to optimise connectivity between regional transport hubs.

Committee chair Louise Ellman said: “Our inquiry highlights the failure to develop an integrated approach to transport planning, from the absence of a decision on airport expansion in the South East, to the lack of a clear plan to upgrade our rail infrastructure, which effectively links cities and airports across the north.

“Without a vision for the country, local areas and regional airports cannot be expected to deliver their own plans effectively. When a decision is finally made about airport expansion in the South East, this must be accompanied by a clear plan to optimise connectivity between regional transport hubs across the country. This will provide much needed national coherence on transport planning matters.

“Government should take the lead in identifying and realising the economic benefits of improved surface access around airports. Where there is compelling evidence that airport expansion would act as a catalyst for significant local, and in some cases national, economic growth, the necessary support and coordination should be provided.”

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