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Surface transport to airports report published by Transport Committee

26 February 2016

The Transport Committee publishes a report saying that Government failure to take a clear lead on integrated transport planning is a major obstacle to better surface access to the UK's airports. The Committee urges Government to set out an integrated transport plan which connects airports across the country, boosting regional access and economic development.


In an inquiry looking at UK airports with one million passengers or more per annum, MPs agreed poor surface access restricts growth, adversely affects passenger experience and forces airport users, local commuters and airport employees to choose transport which exacerbates environmental concerns.
The inquiry revealed a lack of leadership on strategic planning.  Heathrow and Gatwick were not the key focus of the inquiry. However, the lack of a decision over airport capacity in the south east means that it is difficult to see how regional airports fit into the national picture.
The devolution agenda has the potential to improve local planning and economic development. However, Network Rail and Highways England must play their part: how they prioritise airport access schemes is vital to allow local areas to plan and develop effectively. Whether by road or rail, people should be able to choose forms of transport which deliver on ease of travel as well as environmental grounds.
The respective roles and responsibilities of the National Infrastructure Commission, Transport for the North, combined authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships must be clarified. This is particularly important to ensure that advances such as integrated ticketing, can be implemented for the full benefit of passengers.

Chair's comments

Launching the report, the Chair of the Transport Committee, Louise Ellman MP, said:

"Our inquiry highlights the failure to develop an integrated approach to transport planning, from the absence of a decision on airport expansion in the South East, to the lack of a clear plan to upgrade our rail infrastructure which effectively links cities and airports across the north.

Without a vision for the country, local areas and regional airports cannot be expected to deliver their own plans effectively. When a decision is finally made about airport expansion in the South East, this must be accompanied by a clear plan to optimise connectivity between regional transport hubs across the country. This will provide much needed national coherence on transport planning matters.

Government should take the lead in identifying and realising the economic benefits of improved surface access around airports. Where there is compelling evidence that airport expansion would act as a catalyst for significant local, and in some cases national, economic growth, the necessary support and coordination should be provided."

Further information

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