Stansted Airport Surface Access Strategy

Letter to BAA in response to February 2007 consultation

BAA Stansted
Freepost CL4055
Chelmsford
Essex
CM1 3BR
14 May 2007

STANSTED G2 SURFACE ACCESS STRATEGY

I am writing on behalf of the Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation in response to your February 2007 consultation on this subject. I should emphasise at the outset that the following comments are without prejudice to our views on building a second runway at Stansted, a proposal to which we remain firmly opposed. Indeed, the shortcomings in this strategy add weight to our opposition to a second runway.

Approach to Strategy Development

Para 3.2.2 of the document summarises your approach to strategy development as follows:

This seems to us to be a reasonable approach to developing the strategy and it is therefore both surprising and disappointing to find that in substance, the document entirely fails to follow it. It may be stating the obvious, but a plan to double the size of and passenger numbers using the airport is scarcely calculated to reduce the need for travel, while in this context, the strategy’s prediction that the mode share of passengers using cars will fall from 63% to 56% actually implies a huge increase in airport related car journeys. Moreover, since the shift in mode share to public transport is accounted for almost entirely by extra bus and coach travel, the strategy fails to mitigate pressure on the highway network or encourage more sustainable forms of travel. Given the deregulated nature of the bus and coach industry, it is highly unlikely that service densities would be provided which would deliver that shift in mode share.

Rail Access to the Airport

If the strategy had followed the approach it claims to, the full potential ability of rail to absorb additional demand would have been properly analysed. In fact rail’s potential has been treated in the most perfunctory way, as the following examples illustrate:

It then promptly dismisses all the options apart from longer trains and some unspecified capacity enhancements on the West Anglia main line, without any analysis of their relative costs, benefits and modal shift potential and invites us to agree that it has reached the right conclusion. How could we possibly agree?

Since this consultation document was published, Network Rail has published for consultation a draft route utilisation strategy covering the West Anglia route with a closing date for responses of 13 July. This forecasts that the route will become one of the most seriously overcrowded in the region and offers two possible solutions one involving simply running longer trains, and a second which adds extra lines to the route to make overtaking and the running of more frequent services possible. The costs and benefits are identified, with the most expensive also having the highest benefit:cost ratio. For these options, it emphasises that there has been no assessment of power supply or berthing needs, track circuit occupation or platform use at terminal stations. So while this may appear to be superficially similar to BAA s strategy, it is in a very early stage of gestation, actual costs and technical feasibility are uncertain as are the benefits, and of course there is no assurance that funding will be available for some or indeed any of it.

Conclusion

Highway capacity enhancements, according to the strategy approach, are intended to be residual, after all other ways of meeting demand have been exhausted. However, the rail section of the strategy is so profoundly inadequate that we cannot possibly form a view as to the appropriateness of the suggested highway improvements, the only matter on which detailed consultation is taking place. In reality there is no urgency to complete this exercise or indeed to seek permission for a second runway. So, rather than continuing to put the cart before the horse, we suggest that BAA withdraws its consultation document, and starts again when the outcome of Network Rail s route utilisation strategy is known, in terms of options chosen, sources of funding and timing of implementation. In the meantime, BAA could help inform public debate by publishing a full analysis of the other options it claims to have studied so that we can all understand why such a trivial improvement in rail s market share is their preferred outcome.

JOHN RHODES
VICE CHAIRMAN