HS2 boss rejects idea high-speed rail will replace airport runway

by Alister POOLE on January 26, 2011

Sir David Rowlands, former chairman of the High Speed Two project is to declare as total rubbish that a 250mph London to Scotland rail link could be replacement for Heathrow airport’s third runway. In a direct attack on the government’s policies, he will illustrate that a rail route will not ease the burden of the country’s congested airports.

Transport secretary, Philip Hammond, has suggested that a fast train would indeed lighten south-east England airport loads. Rowlands argues that a high-speed network will do little for Heathrow and it is ridiculous to assume just because of it, there is no need to improve runway capacity.

The government has imposed a moratorium on airport expansion in south-east England due to a £30bn high-speed rail expansion programme to be completed in 2025. This phase will link London to Birmingham.

Rowlands is expected to add that the government’s disregard for a third runway at Heathrow is a decision taken without evidence or analysis. Also, David Cameron’s party is acting without an overall strategy for the country’s airports.

Now chairman of Gatwick airport, Rowlands left HS2 last year. Sold to a consortium led by investment firm Global Infrastructure Partners, he laments the fact that the airport lacks a plan. As permanent secretary of the Department for Transport between 2003 and 2007, he participated in the elaboration of the Labour government’s controversial airport expansion policy.

Heathrow can accommodate up to four runways by 2050 without breaching emission targets. Transport minister Theresa Villiers is also to make a speech highlighting new aviation policies. Her view is that high-speed rail projects across Europe show passengers use them instead of flying, thereby easing airport burdens.

{ 1 comment }

John WebberJM January 27, 2011 at 1:13 am

Heathrow c an have a third runway; longer thanLondon City Airport. It’s been there for years. In fact it used to be the principal gateway to Europe.
It’s just up the road at RAF Northolt.

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