Suitability of Heathrow as a location for an airport?

Status
Not open for further replies.

L&Y Robert

Member
Joined
22 Apr 2012
Messages
580
Location
Banbury 3m South
There is a nice little article in this weeks edition of "Planning" by Graeme Bell, Vice-president of the Town and Country Planning Association, which sets out what most of us really know, but do not dare to say. Heathrow airport has outgrown its site, its location, its buildings, its surroundings and its land-side infrastructure and in any reasonable society the airport function would have been moved out of the suburbs to a better site years ago, and the land re-developed as a part of Greater London.

If that were to happen, we would have a large area of derelict land with main-line quality electrified rail station, and a fully functioning tube line already in place! What do you think of that!

"Planning" is the Journal of the Royal Town Planning Institute
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

soil

Established Member
Joined
28 May 2012
Messages
1,951
Heathrow is a pretty awful station reliant on bus links to Woking and Reading to effect any kind of rail connection.
 

ainsworth74

Forum Staff
Staff Member
Global Moderator
Joined
16 Nov 2009
Messages
22,479
Location
Redcar
Heathrow is a pretty awful station reliant on bus links to Woking and Reading to effect any kind of rail connection.
Really? It has a high frequency link to Paddington with links from there out to the west as well as via Tube to the rest of London. It also of course has a Tube link directly to the centre of London. I've always though Heathrow was fairly well connected by rail. Could it be better? Yes, but I wouldn't say the present situation was 'awful'.
 

tbtc

Veteran Member
Joined
16 Dec 2008
Messages
16,150
Location
Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire
The question is where to put any replacement (that would be better connected).

And also whether this should have been resolved before millions were spent on Crossrail (which has the selling point of linking Heathrow to central London/ Docklands etc)
 

L&Y Robert

Member
Joined
22 Apr 2012
Messages
580
Location
Banbury 3m South
The question is where to put any replacement (that would be better connected).

And also whether this should have been resolved before millions were spent on Crossrail (which has the selling point of linking Heathrow to central London/ Docklands etc)
Yes, couldn't agree more, but this sort of muddle is how we do things in this country. When I was at college we used to call it "Disjointed Incrementalism", aka "Muddling Through".
 
Last edited:

ian959

Member
Joined
9 May 2009
Messages
482
Location
Perth, Western Australia
Heathrow was a dinosaur in the wrong place 30 years ago, It should have been moved probably 40 years ago to a site that made more sense. Now it is far too late and there is probably no way to solve the mess that it is. With its rail infrastructure links it is not going to be movable anytime soon. Heathrow stands as a testimony of the utterly crap, nay non-existent, forward planning in the United Kingdom as far as transport is concerned.
 

ainsworth74

Forum Staff
Staff Member
Global Moderator
Joined
16 Nov 2009
Messages
22,479
Location
Redcar
The question is where to put any replacement (that would be better connected).
Yes that was the first thing that came into my mind. Firstly you're looking at a huge facility as it's presumably going to need at least three runways, five terminals and all the massive support infrastructure that a major airport needs. This is going to be a massive site. Google suggests that the existing site is about five square miles so this new site is surely going to be bigger than that say at least six or seven square miles (otherwise what's the point if their isn't going to be more space)?

Which therefore begs the question where is there a location that could accommodate such a site that has reasonable road and a very good rail link (or where the could be created without undue difficulty)? Sticking with the railway aspect of this which main lines out of London have sufficient capacity that at least another 4tph could be pathed and platformed?
 

tbtc

Veteran Member
Joined
16 Dec 2008
Messages
16,150
Location
Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire
Heathrow was a dinosaur in the wrong place 30 years ago, It should have been moved probably 40 years ago to a site that made more sense
To be Devil's Advocate, where would be better?

Any "Thames Island" idea would make it much less accessible from much of the rest of the UK - the current site is handy for the M25 and M4, so much of the UK can get there without going into London.

It lacks a mainlne railway station and it's got no room for growth, but I don't know where would be more suitable.
 

Greenback

Emeritus Moderator
Joined
9 Aug 2009
Messages
15,370
Location
Llanelli
To be Devil's Advocate, where would be better?

Any "Thames Island" idea would make it much less accessible from much of the rest of the UK - the current site is handy for the M25 and M4, so much of the UK can get there without going into London.

It lacks a mainlne railway station and it's got no room for growth, but I don't know where would be more suitable.
A rail link from the west would certainly improve accessibility for a lot of us, it is far better than the Thames island idea!

The question for me is do we really want or need future growth? There are already four major airports in the south east, perhaps that is sufficient considering the difficulties that avaition will probably be facing in the coming years?
 

WestCoast

Established Member
Joined
19 Jun 2010
Messages
5,436
Location
Glasgow
To be fair, Stansted was originally supposed to be the airport that was to relieve a constrained Heathrow and to a lesser extent, Gatwick. The 'new' Stansted was designed with extensive modern facilities, solid road and rail links and the option to expand significantly without causing too much disturbance. Note the design of the terminal and separate gate piers at Stansted, which are partially served by a people mover. Effectively, you could keep adding piers as traffic grew (Stansted started with 2 and now had 3).

However, it didn't turn out the way BAA and the Government had hoped. Airlines like BA and foreign national carriers were not compelled to leave Heathrow or Gatwick and the vast majority chose not to. Some tried Stansted for a short while on a few routes and then terminated the services. Stansted was seen as too far and struggled to attract high yielding business passengers that BA and co. thrived on. The new facilities were built just before the low-cost revolution in European air travel and as Stansted had a lack of services, it was in danger of becoming a white elephant. So, BAA tried to poach smaller airlines from other London area airports. One of these happened to be Ryanair (who moved from Luton) and the rest is history.
 
Last edited:

caliwag

Member
Joined
29 Mar 2009
Messages
606
Location
York
Is the pressure from the disparate operators or from the number of people who want to visit London?

Seems to me that you discount the first groups' prejudices and send 'transfers' to another expandable airport...cannot be many nimbies around Doncaster for example. Those passengers that are 'hubbing' could surely transfer anywhere!

Then leave a quieter Heathrow to the civilised business of arriving and departing for London and environs.

Cheers, Mr Very Naive!
 

Old Yard Dog

Member
Joined
21 Aug 2011
Messages
1,055
Really? It has a high frequency link to Paddington with links from there out to the west as well as via Tube to the rest of London. It also of course has a Tube link directly to the centre of London. I've always though Heathrow was fairly well connected by rail. Could it be better? Yes, but I wouldn't say the present situation was 'awful'.
Heathrow is a terrible airport to get to by rail from the north of England, particularly if you have heavy luggage or children in tow.

There used to be a very useful direct bus service from Euston, the A1, with loads of luggage space, but this was taken off years ago. So you have to cart your bags down onto the tube and force them on to crowded tiny loading gauge carriages - or take a taxi to Paddington and get ripped off by both the taxi driver and by Heathrow Express (even the slower local train isn't cheap).

Cross Country isn't much better. There are no direct trains from Liverpool or Chester or Crewe to Reading and changing at New Street is a nightmare due to the narrow platforms and frequent last minute platform changes.

In fact, Virgin positively discourage passengers with heavy luggage from travelling by train and provide hardly any luggage space.

The fare structure is also a major deterrent. You seldom know the exact train you will be travelling back on due to delays and passport queues so you can't risk an Advance ticket. And the odds are weighted heavily against your flight arriving at a convenient time for off-peak travel.

Poor rail connections are the reason why there are large numbers of flights from places like Manchester to Heathrow. If the connections were any good, domestic flights would be far fewer and they wouldn't need a 3rd runway.

It is a national disgrace that HS2 will not be providing through trains to LHR from the provinces.
 

WestCoast

Established Member
Joined
19 Jun 2010
Messages
5,436
Location
Glasgow
Is the pressure from the disparate operators or from the number of people who want to visit London?

Seems to me that you discount the first groups' prejudices and send 'transfers' to another expandable airport...cannot be many nimbies around Doncaster for example. Those passengers that are 'hubbing' could surely transfer anywhere!

Then leave a quieter Heathrow to the civilised business of arriving and departing for London and environs.

Cheers, Mr Very Naive!
British Airways are the main airline offering connections through Heathrow, there are others offering Alliance/codeshare connections but BA are the main stakeholder here. The services they offer are used by passengers connecting through Heathrow on their airline and also by passengers who are just travelling to/from London.

I don't know percentages, but I believe there are less connecting passengers at Heathrow than at places like Amsterdam for example - which you'd expect as London is large and important on a world scale. You could make BA and Virgin the only operators at Heathrow (and force all others to use another airport), but that would not suit the competition watchdogs at UK or EU level. In Europe, you either open an airport to all operators or none at all, it doesn't work like the railways. Any airline can operate at Heathrow, providing they can get traffic slots (which are very scarce) and pay the high fees.
 

Wath Yard

Member
Joined
31 Dec 2011
Messages
864
What do you think of that!
Perhaps I'm just being cynical but my first thought is does Mr Bell live under the flight path by any chance?

He seems to be missing quite a big point. Heathrow might have good transport links for an airport but if you demolished it and turned it into something else then a couple of tube stations and a couple of railway stations would be extremely poor transport links for an area the size of the City of Westminster.

There are already 2 large financial centres in London so it doesn't need a third, and a 'beautiful, environmentally sustainable, socially successful' area in London is just a dream.
 

ainsworth74

Forum Staff
Staff Member
Global Moderator
Joined
16 Nov 2009
Messages
22,479
Location
Redcar
Heathrow is a terrible airport to get to by rail from the north of England, particularly if you have heavy luggage or children in tow.
If you say so but I've done the journey to/from Heathrow and I'm based in the North East. I found it to be very simple journey to organize and carry out. I was also able to estimate when I'd need to purchase advance tickets for so was able to take advantage of the savings offered. I disagree that it's a terrible airport to get to by rail from the North in fact my mum said she preferred doing the journey to Heathrow to catch a flight than going to our local airport!
 

David10

Member
Joined
25 May 2012
Messages
391
Location
Manchester
The question is where to put any replacement (that would be better connected).

And also whether this should have been resolved before millions were spent on Crossrail (which has the selling point of linking Heathrow to central London/ Docklands etc)
If the nimby argument is a thorn in the side for the government with HS2, think how much trouble a new airport would cause.

Terminal 5 cost £4 billion so Heathrow isn't going anywhere soon. Boris Island is just a pipe dream, in spite of government commitments, the next runway for London will either be at Heathrow or Stansted. Planes will still be flying out of Heathrow long after we have made our final journey through the departure lounge.
 

Greenback

Emeritus Moderator
Joined
9 Aug 2009
Messages
15,370
Location
Llanelli
Heathrow is a terrible airport to get to by rail from the north of England, particularly if you have heavy luggage or children in tow.
In my view, those in the north should be properly served by airports other than Heathrow.

Poor rail connections are the reason why there are large numbers of flights from places like Manchester to Heathrow. If the connections were any good, domestic flights would be far fewer and they wouldn't need a 3rd runway.
If there were more international flights from Manchester and other northern airports, then there would be less need for domestic flights.
 

David10

Member
Joined
25 May 2012
Messages
391
Location
Manchester
If there were more international flights from Manchester and other northern airports, then there would be less need for domestic flights.
Comes down to demand, if there was one airlines would fly here. Manchester does see flights from America, Asia and the Middle East, albeit not by BA.
 

flymo

Established Member
Joined
22 May 2007
Messages
1,474
Location
Geordie in exile.
Being from Newcastle and living in Asia, I used to have little choice but to travel through the carbuncle on the backside of humanity that is Heathrow, which to this day it is still a very poor 'world class' airport. Now I do, courtesy of Emirates. Why do I need to pay £204 in fees just to use Heathrow???????? In HK the fees are around £8 for the same service.

Thank heavens for other airlines and regional destinations.

Heathrow is a cash cow for HMG, nothing more, nothing less.

Heathrow....demolish it and start again.<D
 

LE Greys

Established Member
Joined
6 Mar 2010
Messages
5,389
Location
Hitchin
The biggest problem is that BAA have been allowed to use Heathrow Express as a cash cow. That tunnel must have paid for itself by now, surely. There has also been no effort to link HEX with Stansted via Crossrail, instead the little local shuttles are getting the link. :roll: Connecting the two, especially if passengers could have a separate coach to transfer without going through immegration, would improve links tremendously. It would also provide a fast route to Farringdon, nicely linked with the City. But all this would mean that HEX would have to incorporate with ATOC, so BAA are adopting a dog-in-the-manger position and the DfT will not get tough with them, or simply buy up the line and sell it to Network Rail. It might then be easier to connect into the Colnbrook branch, possibly linking to Staines and Iver, if NR could connect to their own station rather than someone else's.

I've taken to buying tickets to Hayes & Harlington, then singles from there on HC. I can use my railcard that far, and ATOC get all but the last little bit. Even going the other way, I've been known to get off and lug my cases up the steps at Hayes after doing a transatlantic red-eye. Whenever I advise someone how to get into London, I suggest they follow suit.
 

paul1609

Established Member
Joined
28 Jan 2006
Messages
4,081
Location
Wittersham Kent
In my view, those in the north should be properly served by airports other than Heathrow.



If there were more international flights from Manchester and other northern airports, then there would be less need for domestic flights.
I occasionally visit manchester on business from the south coast. These days I nearly always fly north from Gatwick and return on the train unless theres engineering works in which case i'll fly both ways. What does surprise me is that there are actually very few passengers connecting for international flights.
apart from the obvious business passengers the typical passenger will be a pensioner travelling from Eastbourne to see family somewhere in Cheshire. they won't travel by train because they are frightened by the prospect of the cross London transfer. Typically they will have a trusted taxi driver in Eastbourne who takes them to and picks them up from gatwick and they will be picked up from manchester by their family.



 

David10

Member
Joined
25 May 2012
Messages
391
Location
Manchester
I believe BAA have a 25 year concession to operate HEX. Crossrail will be operating from Terminals 1-4 albeit all stops so you will be able to do Stansted with only 1 change at Liverpool St or Stratford. Don't think we will ever see Crossrail trains reach Stansted.
 

Greenback

Emeritus Moderator
Joined
9 Aug 2009
Messages
15,370
Location
Llanelli
Comes down to demand, if there was one airlines would fly here. Manchester does see flights from America, Asia and the Middle East, albeit not by BA.
Evidently there is demand! My point, though, is really that there is no need for any expansion of Heathrow. It is only the artifical competition between airport operators that leads to demands for expansion.

I occasionally visit manchester on business from the south coast. These days I nearly always fly north from Gatwick and return on the train unless theres engineering works in which case i'll fly both ways. What does surprise me is that there are actually very few passengers connecting for international flights.
apart from the obvious business passengers the typical passenger will be a pensioner travelling from Eastbourne to see family somewhere in Cheshire. they won't travel by train because they are frightened by the prospect of the cross London transfer. Typically they will have a trusted taxi driver in Eastbourne who takes them to and picks them up from gatwick and they will be picked up from manchester by their family.
There is always going to be some demand for domestic flights. But I'm not sure that this will be sustained in such cases as your example, as the cost of flights seems certain to rise even further in the next few years.

Utter drivel.
What exactly is utter drivel? The entire thread?
 

flymo

Established Member
Joined
22 May 2007
Messages
1,474
Location
Geordie in exile.
There is always going to be some demand for domestic flights. But I'm not sure that this will be sustained in such cases as your example, as the cost of flights seems certain to rise even further in the next few years.
I used to fly BA domestic Newcastle - Heathrow to connect with an intercontinental flight but due to the phenomenal sums now demanded by BAA/HMG/A.N Other to fly through/to/via Heathrow that is now something that is beyond me.

As an example, last time I paid £49 for a one-way flight, LHR-NCL of which £5 went to BA, the rest went in fees to BAA, HMG, the guy in the red shirt....who knows????.. Utterly preposterous and ridiculous

What exactly is utter drivel? The entire thread?
Glad you asked that Mr. G, had me wondering too.:)
 

Robbies

Established Member
Joined
20 Sep 2009
Messages
1,997
Location
Berkshire
First, I am sure as part of Crossrail that there will be a connection fromm the west into the existing line that will make the connection to the Heathrow line, just to the east of Iver on the GWML.

With regards to where Heathrow should have built, well that is easy. It should have been built in the area between Maidenhead and High Wycombe with the ability such that a line too could have been taken from both the GWML and Chiltern lines. if this had been done, then you would be then pathing HS2 through the railway station for this airport rather than having an Airport station at Old Oak Common to transfer on to trains into Heathrow from HS2.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top