February 25 2015
Airlines and rail operators should work together to provide through ticketing for passengers heading for an international flight, so that individuals are not penalised if their train journey to the airport is delayed, a Transport Minister has suggested.
Robert Goodwill told the Transport Select Committee on Monday: “At the moment if I want to catch a flight from Heathrow to America and take the train down to London and it is delayed, that would be my problem. But if I took a flight from Leeds Bradford (to London) that would be the airline’s problem.
“I would like to see a little bit more joined up thinking between rail operators and airlines to enable people to buy the whole journey.”
Mr Goodwill added that a lack of connectivity with Gatwick and Heathrow is holding back expansion at many regional airports across the UK. When High Speed 2 becomes operational that may free up capacity on the rail network, he added, for more direct trains between regional airports and hubs. He cited the example of Doncaster Robin Hood airport where the East Coast Mainline goes right past the perimeter fence but there are currently no direct services to London.
“A message I get from the smaller regional airports is they need better connectivity, whether that be rail connections or improved roads,” Mr Goodwill said.
The Minister was asked by Committee chair Louise Ellman if Government would like to restore services at Manston airport in east Kent, which has recently been sold and no longer runs commercial flights. “We can help to ensure any regulatory difficulties are minimised,” came the reply.
“Who own the airport?” Ms Ellman then asked. “At the moment I’m told the airport has changed hands,” Mr Goodwill said. “Do you know?” asked Ms Ellman. “I’m not absolutely clear,” the Minister replied. “Have you tried to find out?” asked the chair. “No, I haven’t, but it is clear that whoever won it does not see the recommencement of airport operations there,” Mr Goodwill said.
The Minister went on to acknowledge the strength of public support in east Kent for Manston to resume flights. “We will leave no stone unturned in terms of what we can do to facilitate services being resumed,” he said.
(Photo: Victor, under Creative Commons licence)
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