Stansted Airport is "fighting with its hand behind its back" because a rail route through Hertfordshire, Essex and London is running at the "minimum standard", MPs have warned.

MPs have urged the Treasury to stump up the cash to improve rail links throughout the East of England – including a Stansted Express service between London, Harlow, Bishop’s Stortford and the airport.

The East of England All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) wrote to John Glen MP, chief secretary to the Treasury, in a bid to secure four trains per hour on the route.

Hertford and Stortford MP Julie Marson, who has previously been a vice chair of the APPG, said she is working with rail firm Greater Anglia and the Department for Transport to achieve a better service.

Saffron Walden Reporter: Hertford and Stortford MP Julie MarsonHertford and Stortford MP Julie Marson (Image: UK Government)

The APPG’s letter, signed by MPs Peter Aldous and Daniel Zeichner, reads: "It cannot be right that the fastest recovering and fourth busiest airport in the country, let alone the region’s major gateway to the world, is only being served by two trains per hour into London rather than the 'turn up whenever' four trains per hour service it received prior to Covid.

"The effect of less frequent trains is to make rail travel to Stansted less attractive than other modes of transport.

"Government data is already showing significant modal shift away from rail and towards the use of private car, driving up emissions.

"It also leaves the airport fighting with one hand tied behind its back when competing for international airline investment against the other major London airports, which enjoy better and more resilient rail connectivity into the capital."

The letter also signed by councillors in Suffolk and Bedfordshire as well as Eastern Powerhouse chair James Palmer.

Commenting on the proposal, Ms Marson, who is assistant government whip, said: "Bishop’s Stortford is a commuter town, and people rely on the Stansted Express to get into and out of London quickly.

"Increasing its service back up to four trains per hour will improve its reliability and help with issues like overcrowding."

According to airport consultancy Alan Stratford and Associates, Stansted Airport is showing the fastest recovery in the UK.

A Bishop’s Stortford Climate Group organisation spokesperson said Hertfordshire must see better public transport to encourage residents to leave their cars at home.

They said: "Increasing the number of trains from Bishop’s Stortford into London and the airport is to be welcomed.

"Obviously a caveat is that we all need to limit our air travel to avoid it blowing our carbon budget."

A Greater Anglia spokesperson said: "We work closely with Stansted Airport to ensure we provide the appropriate service level for customers travelling to and from the airport by rail.

"Travelling by rail is one of the greenest forms of transport, and we are committed to providing a frequent service to and from the airport.

"We would expect that assuming air travel demand continues to recover and grow over time, that will help build the case for adding in more train services to and from the airport."