Three experts explain how rail and air travel improvements can power growthby Steve Double, Adam Marshall, Sophie Dekkers / December 20, 2017 / Leave a comment
Transport infrastructure is key to powering prosperity post-Brexit
Steve Double, MP for St Austell and Newquay and member of the Transport Select Committee
Rail is an increasingly critical part of the national infrastructure that will ensure Britain’s economic prosperity post-Brexit.
Demand for rail travel has surged over the past 20 years. More journeys are being made today than at any time since its peak in 1919. As a result, our rail services are facing huge capacity challenges and passengers are often having to use outdated rail links.
In response, last month The Department for Transport (DfT) released its vision for the UK’s railways. “Connecting people: a strategic vision for rail” outlines the government’s plans to invest almost £35bn by 2024 and create a “one team” approach to rail transport that will improve services and ease capacity demands.
But if our infrastructure is to power prosperity post-Brexit, we can’t take a siloed approach. A vision for rail must be considered alongside that for road and airspace too. Let me explain why.
As Britain navigates its exit from Europe, our airports will play a critical role in ensuring our competitiveness on a global stage.
Rail is invaluable in helping airports grow. Good links make it quicker and easier for people to travel for leisure and business. But currently, rail links, especially to regional airports, are not adequate.
London Luton Airport (LLA) is a prime example. It is London’s fastest growing airport and can help towards providing the extra capacity Britain needs to meet increasing demand for air travel. But currently, its ability to do so is being constrained by inadequate rail links. It is the only London airport without an express-style rail service. Increasing the number of fast trains to Luton Airport Parkway Station (LAP) would boost economic growth and bring an additional £110 million in revenue for the DfT. All these benefits could come through simple timetable change, no capital spending and no new infrastructure.
The government is right to be taking a strategic approach to ensure our railways are fit for today and the future. But let’s have the vision to look beyond transport siloes and make sure Britain has the connectivity that will keep Britain open and power prosperity.
Collaboration can pave the way for economic growth
Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC)
The Transport Select Committee has made clear that inadequate surface access is a significant limiting factor for airports’ abilities to reach their full capacity.
Airports are major drivers of economic growth across Britain. In 2015, regional airports and associated business brought in £14 billion to UK GDP. With improved rail access, airports could bring in even more revenue to the UK, creating local jobs, helping local businesses to grow and trade internationally.
We welcome the Department for Transport’s new rail strategy and measures to support local businesses across the UK. But in these increasingly challenging times, government, rail companies, airports and local councils must all work together to create the transport infrastructure that can power growth and enable our businesses to thrive.
Trains are as important as planes in keeping Britain open for business
Sophie Dekkers, UK director at easyJet
The aviation sector provides essential economic connections for the UK. So it’s important that we make best use of the capacity that already exists at airports around the UK.
We can unlock more capacity by ensuring that passengers have the right transport links to airports.
Delivering more fast trains to Luton Airport Parkway is a simple, effective way to provide a better airport connection, so that air passengers can more quickly get where they want to go.