Christian Wolmar: The Future of Heathrow

Articles, LondonUnlocked, The Future of HeathrowEditorComment

Writing in Rail Magazine - and also his blog - Christian Wolmar ruminates on the Tory's transport agenda, and what a transport programme driven by them might look like.

Mr Wolmar's comments also stray into the debate over Heathrow's expansion:

"Certainly the policy of abandoning a third runway at Heathrow will not be too difficult to follow through. It is a proposal that is unpopular with vast swathes of Londoners, and only a section of the business lobby supports it. The Labour notion that expanding airport capacity in London is essential to keep air fares down, and therefore enabling the poor to fly, is quite simply ludicrous. It is highly dubious whether London needs any extra airport capacity if the cost of flying increases which, despite the current low oil prices, is highly likely with the imposition of environmental taxes and the inevitable return to high oil prices. The argument that the number of passengers flying in and out of the UK is bound to keep on rising because it has done so at a constant rate of around 3 per cent annually since the war is an arithmetical, not an economic one.

"Therefore not many people would shed tears over scrapping the scheme, although there is one interesting rail-related side issue. How much of the case for Crossrail, which the Tories support, is dependent on continued growth at Heathrow? Even more pertinently, there must be serious doubts over whether BAA still be willing to lob in a quarter of a billion pounds towards the cost of Crossrail if the third runway does not get built."

More here - it's very good stuff.