Arup releases proposal to improve Heathrow Airport

16 May 2008

On Friday, 16th May 2008 Arup released its proposals outlining how to improve access and add more space for passengers at Heathrow airport. Later that Day, Arup addressed the challenge of maintaining the London airport’s global position at a committee meeting of ‘Future Heathrow’.

Mark Bostock, a Director at Arup, said: “The proposals we are releasing have the ability to help transform Heathrow into a world-class transport hub. Our proposal is underpinned with three years of research, and we feel we can make these recommendations with confidence.”

Arup’s proposal would see Heathrow become the first stop on an extended High Speed Rail Network that currently terminates at King’s Cross St Pancras. This would provide the airport with a direct rail link to continental Europe.

Creating a new high-speed rail station at Heathrow – also serving national rail train services on the Great Western Main Line – would make the airport instantly more accessible to the West, South West, Wales and the Midlands. Cities such as Oxford, Birmingham and Cardiff, would have new direct services to Heathrow, making it a much more attractive to arrive at the airport by rail, a more environmentally-friendly mode of transport than the road access that currently predominates.

Currently, just 22 per cent of passengers arrive at Heathrow by rail, including the London Underground, in direct contrast to the 65 per cent that arrive by car.

Mark Bostock continued: “The proposal to link Heathrow into the rail network would enable people travelling from some of Heathrow’s principal markets to arrive at the airport by train. Moreover, these plans fit in with emerging proposals to extend High Speed rail lines north. Looking to the future, we could see travel times from Heathrow to Leeds and Manchester by rail reduced to less than two hours.”

“Not only would this decrease journey times to Heathrow, but by improving access to the airport passengers travelling to Heathrow would be encouraged out of their cars and on to trains - delivering environmental benefits to the UK,” he said.

Every day up to 104 domestic flights arrive and depart Heathrow, and a further 140 flights go to and from European cities that would be within a two and a half hour high-speed train journey from the airport. Extending the high-speed network to Heathrow would offer passengers the choice between different modes of transport.

Arup has carefully researched over 22 potential sites for the new terminal and has pinpointed an area approximately three kilometres north of the existing T5 that would have maximum impact for rail connectivity but would also have minimal impact on Heathrow’s existing infrastructure.

Mr Bostock said: “Before announcing these plans today, we have had very constructive discussions with BAA, airlines, the rail industry, local councils and government representatives regarding our proposals. All parties we have spoken to can see the significant value that would be delivered to passengers – and local residents – by improving rail connectivity to Heathrow airport.

“We have also carefully examined how to improve the internal infrastructure at Heathrow. This would enhance the customer’s experience of travelling through the airport. We want to provide more space for passengers, make it even easier for them to access the airport and give them as smooth an experience as possible once they arrive at any one of Heathrow’s terminals,” he said.

Mike Forster, BAA Director of Strategy, said: "BAA supports the development of properly evaluated, integrated transport networks, linking air, rail and road systems. An enhanced rail link to Heathrow, complementing a third runway, could increase passenger choice and create a modern inter-modal hub to compete with other major European airports. This is an interesting proposal which deserves further consideration and we look forward to working with Arup and others to develop it further."

Lord Soley of Hammersmith, Campaign Director of Future Heathrow, said: "This is a very exciting proposal which deserves further consideration."

Why Arup?

Arup is a global firm of designers, engineers, planners and business consultants. We are owned by Trusts established for the benefit of our staff and for charitable purposes, as such there are no external shareholders. The ownership structure plays a fundamental part in the way we are organised and how we operate. Our profits are re-invested in learning, research and development, distributed to our staff through a global profit sharing scheme and donated to charitable organisations.

In the late 1980’s Arup researched an innovative alternative for the alignment of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. The route proposed by our Project Creation Team which focused on using the link as a catalyst for regeneration was adopted by Government in 1991. It came into being in November 2007, when the first Eurostar arrived, via High Speed 1, at St Pancras International.

For the last three years, the same team of rail engineers, economists, environmental experts and transport planners has focused on delivering an equally imaginative and bold solution to secure the long-term future of Heathrow. Their comprehensive study will be completed later this year.