Consultation Public Transport

Heathrow expansion is conditional on their meeting a target of 50% of passengers to use public transport to and from the airport by 2030, increasing to 55% by 2040. This target is essential if carbon targets are to be met – in part by reducing private car and taxi usage.

Heathrow currently handles 78m passengers a year, of which 56.9m are non-transit passengers travelling to and from the airport. Only 38% of these use public transport. The construction of the third runway is planned to increase non-transit passengers from 56.9m to 91.8m a year – an increase of 61%

To meet the target, passenger numbers using public transport to Heathrow must increase from 21.8m a year to 50.5m a year by 2040 – an increase of 133%!

Most of this increase is expected to fall upon the Piccadilly Line (8m passengers more – an 80% increase) and the Crossrail Elizabeth Line (8m passengers more). Both of these lines will have significant upgrades in the near future. However, the need for these improvements was not based on additional traffic from Heathrow, but on

  • reducing current overcrowding
  • allowing for a projected 20% increase in the London population size from 8.4m to 10m by 2040
  • improving current reliability.

For Piccadilly Line users, this would mean the equivalent of 40 trains per day totally full of Heathrow passengers and their luggage, over and above those that are currently using the line.

Regular users of the line will know that any further crowding on these trains is wholly unacceptable, and poses some major health and safety issues. None of the studies that Heathrow has carried out allow for the additional space-taking luggage carried by Heathrow passengers.

For the Elizabeth Line, a huge chunk of the new capacity which was supposed to lead to a major improvement in travel for West London would be absorbed by new Heathrow passengers.

One last point. Heathrow are only prepared to pay a small proportion of the cost of improved transport links, expecting the taxpayer to contribute substantially to providing transport links to their privately owned airport.


In summary, we suggest that you highlight in your own words

  • Heathrow expansion is conditional on a huge increase in its public transport usage
  • planned improvements to the Piccadilly Line will be more than absorbed by Heathrow expansion, and overcrowding will get much worse
  • upgrades to the Piccadilly and Elizabeth Lines were not designed for a huge increase in passenger traffic from Heathrow
  • further overloading of already overloaded transport is unacceptable
  • Heathrow have ignored non-airport commuters and travellers in West London by attempting to place this huge burden upon us

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