Row over airport transport figures

CAMPAIGNERS opposed to expansion at Stansted Airport have accused its operator BAA of relying on the region's roads to cope with millions of customers.

CAMPAIGNERS opposed to expansion at Stansted Airport have accused its operator BAA of relying on the region's roads to cope with millions of customers.

They spoke out after latest figures revealed nearly 12 million people a year are travelling to and from the Essex airport by road, while the numbers using trains has dropped by 500,000.

Peter Sanders, chairman of Stop Stansted Expansion, said BAA's “reliance” on roads contradicted Government policy placing greater focus on public transport.

But BAA have hit back, saying campaigners fail to point out that of Stansted's 23 million passengers annually, less are using cars to get to the airport, meaning the increase is due to increased bus use.


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It pointed out Stansted has the highest public transport use by passengers of all the UK airports and is also in the top four in Europe.

Figures released by the Civil Aviation Authority revealed 4.8 million airport passengers used the train to access Stansted last year compared to 5.3 million in 2004, despite an overall 5% increase in the number of passengers.

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At the same time, the number of Stansted's passengers who arrived at or departed the airport by road increased by 700,000 to 11.7 million.

Mr Sanders said: “Local people need very little reminding about the growth in road congestion or of the overcrowding on many of our train services to London arising from the rapid expansion of the airport in recent years.

“BAA has consistently failed to keep pace with the airport's expansion by investing in the proper rail infrastructure needed to cater for the rapid growth we have seen in passenger numbers.

“It is astonishing that even in the case of BAA's present planning application which, if approved by Uttlesford District Council, could eventually enable Stansted to handle 45 million or even 50 million passengers a year, BAA continues to claim that there is no need for any new investment in rail infrastructure or road improvements.”

But a BAA spokesman said: “Those who are serious about Stansted and its future understand the truth and they are supporting the important work we are doing to get people out of private cars and on to public transport.

“We are number one in the UK, and take great pride in our record of achievement. SSE is ignoring the vital role bus and coach plays in providing public transport alternatives at Stansted.

“We have made substantial investments in new services which has seen bus and coach use grow by over 250% over the last five years - that's a real success story that has given passengers real choice.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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