Surface the key to success

Gatwick Airport has said it is a better choice for runway expansion because of the already programmed road and rail improvements that, it says, will leave it ready for a second runway.

The Airport has said that, among other improvements, by 2019 there will be a train for central London every two and a half minutes from Gatwick Airport station.

Coupled with the investment in rolling stock this represents a significant lift in the frequency and quality of the service, one which is vital to the airport and to businesses around it.

Gatwick also made the point that, unlike the proposed new estuary airport, all this would be put in place with no additional surface access expenditure for the taxpayer.

Heathrow has a similar contention, and their bid is also backed by private expenditure, while “Boris Island” would require up to £25bn of public money, according to estimates, to be spent connecting it to the rest of the UK.

Gatwick are aiming for 60% of customers to use public transport, which would be comparable with the best globally, and certainly better than any other UK airport. This is important, as otherwise the strain on our road and rail network caused by passenger growth, combined with the extra surface traffic created by the employment induced by another runway – 40,000 more people working in the Diamond by some estimates – could reduce significantly the economic benefit we could realise.

As well as road and rail investment, we need to know where the new workers might live. This is a subject for another occasion, but a coherent and sustainable regional strategy covering homes, jobs, and the way people will travel between them is essential.

Our event on June 5 considers many of these issues, and future events will do more. Come along and join in