Stansted Airport: MP’s rail link plea

Essex MPs are pushing for rail network to link to Stansted Airport

Essex MPs are pushing for rail network to link to Stansted Airport - Credit: Archant

ESSEX MPS have called for improved transport links to Stansted to be part of a major rail project planned for London.

Witham MP Priti Patel and member for Saffron Walden Sir Alan Hazelhurst both see a better service from Stansted as vital to the economic development of the region. And they would like these improvements factored into the proposed £12billion Crossrail 2 high-speed rail line.

Crossrail 2 is a planned major new rail link connecting south-west and north-east London, via a tunnel beneath the capital.

It is hoped the line, which is planned to open in 2030, will provide relief for London’s existing rail network as the city’s population continues to grow in the future.

The current proposals from the London First task force offer a number of options for Crossrail 2.

The broad proposal is that it should be built to provide suburban and regional services between Hertfordshire and parts of Surrey and Middlesex, via a new central tunnel between Tottenham and Wimbledon.

But consultation on the project, spearheaded by Transport for London (TfL), is due to start in the spring and Ms Patel hopes to lobby for the plans to be revised, so improved links to Stansted are included. She said:” “The Crossrail 2 proposals from London First linking north and south London were innovative but should be extended to go to Stansted Airport. Stansted is Britain’s third most used airport by passengers and has significant capacity to accommodate more passengers.

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“Improving transport links between London and Stansted – whether through an enhanced Crossrail 2 proposal or through other measures – will unlock more economic opportunities in Essex and create many new jobs.”

Ms Patel, a lead campaigner for the East Anglian Rail Prospectus, a joint initiative by the region’s MPs to enhance rail links in the east, added: “The region’s rail links need upgrading and requires significant improvements. Commuters in Essex and across the region pay a premium to use the railways and we are cross-financing investment in other parts of the country.

“If you look at projections for population increases and consider together with London we are part of the economic heart of the region – we can’t carry on with the status quo.”

According to TfL’s managing director of planning, Michele Dix, an option of extending the Crossrail “towards” Stansted is still on the table.

She said: “We are currently considering two short listed options, one of which could involve an extension of Crossrail 2 along the Lea Valley lines towards Stansted. TfL will be undertaking a strategic consultation on these options in the spring.”

But, Sir Alan Haselhurst said he was “suspicious” about whether Crossrail 2 would ultimately incorporate improved rail links to the airport.

He said: “Access from Stansted to London has got progressively worse since I came to the this seat in 1977 and successive governments are to blame. If nothing has been done to improve capacity over the past 28 years, I would be right to be cautious in thinking things might improve now.

Sir Alan added: “I’ve been banging on for years that the two-track West Anglia Line between Stansted and London needs to be upgraded to four tracks to allow express services as well as stopping services for commuters. If this happens and is called Crossrail 2 then that would be a good thing for passengers.”