Stansted: Airport’s managing director hails success of public transport strategy

Speakers at Stansted Airport's Transport Forum, from left, David Leam from London First, Stansted Ai

Speakers at Stansted Airport's Transport Forum, from left, David Leam from London First, Stansted Airport managing director Andrew Harrison, and John Pope, head of passenger transport for Essex County Council. - Credit: Archant

The new managing director of Stansted Airport has hailed its success in encouraging the use of public transport by air passengers on the way to and from their flights.

Andrew Harrison was speaking at the airports 13th Transport Forum event, the first to be held since his appointment as managing director following the airport’s acquisition by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) from the former BAA group.

The event also heard how Stansted’s passenger numbers, and public transport record, could receive a further boost from the proposed Crossrail 2 rail scheme.

Mr Harrison told guests at the event: “Under new ownership, the airport is already a very different place, full of ambition and drive, more confident and positive about its future prospects.

“This is great news for passengers, employees and businesses across the region and, as a result of these achievements, many of us will benefit from this new positive attitude and outlook.

“We have set out plans to return the airport to growth, add more destinations, more airlines, and have already signed long terms deals with Ryanair, easyJet and Thomas Cook.

“The challenge now is to attract long haul and full service scheduled operators to Stansted. Our commercial team is working tirelessly to promote the airport and its connections to London and the East of England as an opportunity not to be missed.”

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Mr Harrison added: “No-one will disagree that the last few months have been non-stop. Yet in the midst of all this we can take pride in a year of achievement at the airport. I’m delighted to announce that 51% of our passengers now use trains, buses and coaches to get to and from Stansted.

“This means Stansted is not just the best major airport for public transport use by passengers but it’s now the number one of all UK airports, something we are extremely proud of.

“We are also delighted to see the recommendations from the recent London First report – A world class rail link for Stansted. We all know that securing improvements to the West Anglia main line isn’t going to happen overnight but if we are to secure investment on this line, we need to work together and speak with one voice.

“Going beyond that, 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.

“We are hugely proud of our record, but today is all about building on that success and renewing our commitment to drive for more services and even higher standards of customer service. M.A.G is fully supportive of this and will continue to support the development of both public and private transport provision at the airport.”

The potential benefits for Stansted Airport from the Crossrail 2 rail proposal unveiled earlier this year were highlighted at the event by David Leam, director of infrastructure at London First.

He told delegates at the event, held at the Radisson Blu Hotel at Stansted, 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.

The Crossrail scheme currently under construction involves the creation of a direct route linking Maidenhead on the Great Western main line to the west of London to Shenfield, on the Great Eastern main line, via central London stations including Paddington and Liverpool Street.

Crossrail 2, plans for which were published in February, would involve a new link between the South Western line out of Waterloo and the West Anglia line out of Liverpool Street, via the Victoria and Euston/King’s Cross/St Pancras termini in London.

Although it is invisaged that direct Crossrail 2 services would run only as far at Hertford East, which is served by a branch off the West Anglia line, the new route would also assist travel to other destinations further north such as Stansted Airport and Cambridge.

Mr Leam said: “We face a stark choice: keep investing in our transport network to keep pace with population and jobs growth, or let congestion hold us back.

“Crossrail 2 is a proposed new rail service connecting south west, central and north east London that 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,.”

The forum saw more than 100 community representatives, local councillors and public transport experts attend a workshop and hear from speakers who also included Essex County Council head of passenger transport John Pope and motivational speaker Jim Lawless.

The annual event showcases the continuous work the airport undertakes to improve surface access and highlights targets for the future.