The government is backing a package of ground transport measures designed to improve access to major UK airports, as recommended by the Airports Commission.
These improvements, which include redeveloping the rail station at Gatwick and setting up a study to examine southern rail access to Heathrow, have been incorporated in the government’s £375 billion National Infrastructure Plan 2013.
The government said it was “committed to taking this package forward” as part of the plan.
Ground transport measures featured in the plan include:
- Committing £50 million towards a full redevelopment of the railway station at Gatwick
- Setting up a new study into southern rail access to Heathrow
- Accelerating a Network Rail study into the Brighton mainline
- Extending the scope of the East Anglian mainline study to include access to Stansted
- Including the Gatwick to London route on a planned trial of smart ticketing
- Including access to Gatwick in the Highways Agency study on local motorways
The Airports Commission, which is headed by Sir Howard Davies, is due to publish an interim report on the need to increase airport capacity later this month as well as a shortlist of potential solutions.
“I am pleased that the government has acted on our recommendations to enhance surface access to some of our major airports,” said Davies, who made the suggestions in a letter to chancellor George Osborne last month.
“Improving the quality of surface transport links can play an important part in optimising how we use our existing infrastructure in the short and medium-term. We will present further recommendations for making the best use of existing capacity in our interim report.”
Both Heathrow and Gatwick welcomed their inclusion in the infrastructure plan.
“We welcome the Airports Commission’s recommendation that the government should look into a southern rail link to Heathrow, as well as confirmation of the commitment to connect Heathrow with the Great Western Line,” said Heathrow in a statement.
“A direct connection from the south has the potential to improve public transport journey times for millions of people living in places like Surrey, Hampshire and south London.”
Gatwick’s chief executive Stewart Wingate described the £50 million funding as a “welcome and positive first step toward delivering the new Gatwick Gateway rail station”.
He added: “Gatwick currently has the highest percentage of passengers accessing the airport by rail of any UK airport and as we continue to grow the number of global routes served by legacy, charter and low cost airlines, the package of measures announced today will help us deliver a world-class passenger experience for Britons and visitors alike.”