Improving surface access to London’s airports

What is the issue for passengers?

Passengers do not find it as easy as they should to travel by public transport to London’s five major airports. The Airports Commission’s interim report on the need for additional UK airport capacity, which recommended a third runway at Heathrow Airport, has helped make this issue highly topical.

What did we do?

In response to the Commission’s report, we emphasised the need to improve access to all London’s airports regardless of the Government’s final decision on expansion to make better use of existing capacity. We reiterated the points we made in the report we published last year on improving surface transport access to London’s airports. We also gave evidence to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee’s inquiry on surface access to airports. Our priorities included improving connections, providing direct rail links from South London, North West Surrey and the Thames Valley to Heathrow Airport and prioritising electrification of the North Downs rail route which serves Gatwick. We also called for the extension of Oyster Pay As You go to Gatwick and for Crossrail to serve Heathrow Terminal 5. As a result of our knowledge and understanding of the issue, we were able to obtain meetings with the Civil Aviation Authority and the Aviation Minister, at which we emphasised our priorities for passengers. We have also contributed to Heathrow Airport’s planning of surface access arrangements.

What was the outcome?

As a direct result of our intervention, Heathrow Airport Ltd commissioned a report to look at whether Oyster/contactless can be extended to be used on Heathrow Express and fully on Heathrow Connect.