Stansted Airport: Growth still the key issue

DESPITE ditching immediate plans to create a new runway and terminal at Stansted the major buzzword among airport bosses is still “growth.”

Stansted is a web of trains, planes and automobiles and, although an application to expand was withdrawn at the start of summer, commercial and development director Nick Barton is still keen to put long term plans for expansion in place.

Speaking at the airport’s annual transport conference on Thursday morning he said: “We must face up to the challenges and bring things forward. We must respond to the need for growth as Stansted is the only airport in the South East with room to expand.

“We will overcome the tough market conditions and lay the foundations for future growth.”

However, the meaning of the word growth does not necessarily mean that Stansted will be exploring the idea of extra runways any time soon.

Bosses will be welcoming new trains from the end of March next year, and the entire 30-year-old fleet of Stansted Express carriages will be replaced by December 2011.

On top of that, National Express East Anglia managing director Andrew Chivers revealed that platforms will be lengthened and re-designed as part of that process.

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He said: “The one thing I said I’d do when I took this job was to improve the Stansted Express service to and from London.

“We will have 17 per cent extra capacity with 188 new carriages. We are all very excited. It took two years to get this agreement and we managed to put it in place last April before the announcement of an �8billion Government investment in rail.

“That allowed us to get the jump on other projects and now everything is on schedule.”

A new timetable is also being investigated in which more trains going directly from Stansted to London with stops only in Bishops Stortford and Harlow.

Elsewhere, the airport is continually improving and increasing its transport options.

The coach station is undergoing an expansion program, including new waiting rooms, information kiosks and information boards, and new routes are being added for “extra connectivity.”

Mr Barton concluded his speech by adding that Stansted is meeting all of its targets on environment, transport links and noise levels set by independent watchdogs. He insisted that the airport “can achieve” green aviation and expansion.

But added: “We recognise that we cannot grow uncontrollably. There are many issues locally surrounding airport expansion. But we are committed to meeting the UK’s needs in providing extra capacity as air travel continues to grow.”

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