Crossrail 2 could bring more passengers to Stansted Airport, says business expert

Stansted Airport

Stansted Airport - Credit: Archant

A proposed rail link between south-west and north-east London could shorten journey times to Stansted Airport from the capital and increase the number of airline passengers using the Uttlesford terminal, a business expert has said.

David Leam, director of infrastructure at business lobby group London First, was in the county yesterday to address an audience at the airport’s 13th Transport Forum where he spoke about the mooted Crossrail 2 project and the potential benefits it could have for Stansted.

Two options for Crossrail 2, due to be built by 2030, are currently being considered. One is a ‘regional option’ that would see the line extended out into Hertfordshire and maybe Essex towards Stansted.

Network Rail and Transport for London, who are leading the project, have asked for initial comments for the plans, and are still considering how far they might build into Essex.

But Mr Leam told delegates that even if Crossrail 2 did not serve the airport directly, it would improve rail journey times and bring Stansted even closer to people living in and around London.

He said: “Crossrail 2 could transform journeys for millions of passengers. This includes benefits for Stansted through the creation of additional tracks to at least as far as Broxbourne, allowing more and quicker journeys to the airport and bringing it even closer into London’s orbit.”

Speaking later he said he believed improved rail links would bring more passengers to the airport, which currently serves over 17 million people each year.

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He said: “The airport has done a brilliant job in getting people to travel to the airport by public transport – mainly by coach and bus. The number of rail travellers has been flat-lining in recent years, and if we want to get more people off the M11 then improved rail links are needed.”

Last year bosses at Stansted estimated an additional 1.4 million passengers could be attracted to use the airport if new faster and reliable rail links were installed.

Speaking yesterday, Stansted’s managing director, Andrew Harrison, said 51 per cent of passengers now use trains, buses and coaches to get to and from the airport.

He added: “We’ve heard today about the significant benefits that Crossrail 2 would have in accessibility and choice for passengers right across London, and provide a huge step up in connectivity to Stansted.”

Director of policy at Essex Chambers of Commerce, David Burch, said any improvements in transport infrastructure could boost passenger numbers.

He said: “Crossrail 2 is one option but so are improvements to the West Anglian mainline or extending the branch line out from Braintree. We have also been arguing for upgrades to the A120, so it is dual-carriageway all the way along, which would improve links to Stansted.”

But Saffron Walden MP, Sir Alan Haselhurst, said that any improvements in rail links from London to Stansted should not be done solely for the benefit of air passengers and the needs of commuters travelling from mid-Essex into the capital should also be considered.

He added: “They are the ones who pay big money to use the rail services every day.”