The Anonymous Widower

Will The Third Runway At Heathrow Be Actually Built In The Near Future?

If nothing else yesterday’s statement by the Government, stated that the UK is going to build another runway in the South-East.

But I have my doubts, that a third runway will be open at Heathrow in the near future.

Building The Third Runway

As I said in Building The Third Runway At Heathrow, I don’t believe that the actual construction of the Airport would present any problems for any large construction company or more likely  consortium. This is illustrated today, by this article on the BBC, which is entitled New Heathrow runway may be built above the M25, which says to me that engineers are looking for easier and more affordable ways to build the new runway.

Rebuilding The Current Terminals

Heathrow are also disclosing a master-plan, for rebuilding a lot of the airport to make it more efficient and up with the best.

  • There will be two main terminals; Heathrow West and Heathrow East with satellites in between handling the actual planes.
  • These two terminals and the satellites will be between the two existing runways, with a passenger and baggage transport system beneath.
  • Terminal Five will become Heathrow West.
  • An extended Terminal Two will become Heathrow East.
  • Crossrail, Heathrow Express and the Underground will serve both main terminals.
  • A Terminal Six would be mainly for the third runway, would effectively be part of Heathrow West.

I believe that this rebuilding could start well before the third runway is even given the go-ahead, as many of the works will be within the current Airport boundary.

Rail Links To The Airport

Part of the master-plan is extensive rail links to the Airport.

  • Crossrail, Heathrow Express and the Underground will serve London.
  • There will be rail links to both the West and South.
  • There will be a rail link to both HS1 and HS2.
  • Could we even see a rail-based cargo transport system running under all the terminals, bringing in supplies for the terminals and the planes?

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the current rail links at Heathrow.

Rail Lines At Heathrow

Rail Lines At Heathrow

Note.

  • The Piccadilly Line is shown in blue.
  • The lines going South lead to Terminal Four.
  • Crossrail has Terminal |Four as its terminus
  • The Heathrow West and Heathrow East concept fits the rail lines well.
  • Terminal Five station is ready for access from the West.

I think just as Gatwick are embracing rail with a vengeance, rail can be a major force in the development of Heathrow.

We could even be seeing the current rail line through \\\yerminals 2Two and \five becoming a high-capacity rail line connecting all the terminals to the Wet, East and South.

A Greener Airport

If as many of the traffic movements in and around the airport could be moved from polluting road transport to electric trains, Heathrow’s pollution footprint could be reduced.

As an example, you could envisage a factory in a low cost area by a rail line to the West of Heathrow creating airline meals. These would be packaged by flight number and then taken by electric cargo train direct to the appropriate terminal or satellite, ready for loading onto the plane.

Could we even see an airport, where very few trucks and service vehicles, use the runways and aprons? You certainly see a lot less vehicles on an airport, than you did decades ago.

I found this page on the Heathrow  web site, which is entitled Our Vehicle Fleet Is Making The Switch.

This is a paragraph.

850 vehicles in the airside fleet at Heathrow are electric, making it one of the largest fleets of electric airside vehicles in Europe. As well as electric tugs that move baggage around the airfield, we use electric cars and vans to transport our people. We are trialling electric specialist ground support vehicles such as belt loaders, cargo loaders and push back tractors.

I was surprised to see pushback tractors mentioned, as some weigh up to fifty tonnes. But according to the Wikipedia entry for pushback, there are interesting developments in this field. This is said about robotic push back tractors.

The Lahav Division of Israel Aerospace Industries has developed a semi-robotic towbarless tractor it calls Taxibot that can tow an aircraft from the terminal gate to the take-off point (taxi-out phase) and return it to the gate after landing (taxi-in phase). The Taxibot eliminates the use of airplane engines during taxi-in and until immediately prior to take-off during taxi-out potentially saving airlines billions of dollars in fuel that is used. The Taxibot is controlled by the pilot from the cockpit using the regular pilot controls.

Even as a trained Control Engineer and a private pilot with over a thousand hours in command, I can’t help but wonder at the concept.

As a final thought, surely if all unnecessary vehicles could be removed from air-side, this must improve safety and security.

What too, would low or even zero carbon operations, do for the image of the airport?

Travelling To The Airport

One consequence of the rebuilding of the terminals with rail links to both London and the West, will be a reduction in the number of travellers, who drive or are driven to to the airport.

In the London Olympics every event ticket came with a London Travelcard, so that you used public transport. Could we see public transport tickets bundled in with air tickets to cut the need for vehicles to drive to and from the airport?

I certainly think, that we’ll see rail-connected parking to the airport, just because land close to an airport is so expensive.

Local Transport To The Airport

I suspect that a lot of journeys to and from the airport are quite local, as they concern local residents, employees or travellers perhaps spending a night after or before a flight close to the airport.

These journeys have not been forgotten in the master-plan, as it talks of improving bus services.

But the most interesting development is the ULTra PRT system, I talked about in A Visit To Heathrow Terminal 5.

A Heathrow-wide system has been proposed. This is said in Wikipedia.

In May 2013 Heathrow Airport Limited announced as part of its draft five year (2014-2019) master plan that it intended to use the PRT system to connect terminal 2 and terminal 3 to their respective business carparks. The proposal was not included in the final plan due to spending priority given to other capital projects and has been deferred.

There have been suggestions that they will extend the service throughout the airport and to nearby hotels using 400 pods.

The system at Heathrow may not be built, but expect something like it at an airport near you.

Imagine turning up in a convenient car park or train station, with family and baggage, ready to travel on holiday. You scan your pre-printed boarding pass or click one on your phone and a pod arrives, which takes you to the satellite your flight will use.

As they travelled, passengers could scan passports and they would be given up-to-date flight information.

Flying is a total pain, best summed up by the old pilot’s moto.

Time to spare, go by air!

A decent system to bring people to the airport, could make flying more of a pleasure.

Integration With HS2

I’m taking this first, as it’s probably easier than linking to HS1

When Phase 2 of HS2 opens, services Northward from Old Oak Common station are proposed to be.

  • Birmingham – 3 tph
  • Edinburgh – 2 tph
  • Glasgow – 2 tph
  • Leeds – 3 tph
  • Liverpool – 2 tph
  • Manchester – 3 tph
  • Newcastle – 2 tph
  • Preston – 1 tph
  • Sheffield – 2 tph
  • York – 1 tph

I estimate that Heathrow to Old Oak Common will be about 20 minutes by Crossrail and 10 minutes by Heathrow Express.

As changing planes at Heathrow, according to the Airport takes between 75 and 90 minutes, using HS2 would be competitive.

,Especially if the interchange at Old oak Common was well-designed.

Leeds will be about ninety minutes from Old Oak Common. so if the interchange timings are right, a passenger could be in the centre of Leeds around two hours after coming through Arrivals at Heathrow. A chauffeur-driven supercar couldn’t do that legally.

Integration With HS1

This is more difficult, as neither Crossrail nor Heathrow Express serves St. Pancras.

There are a choice of routes.

  • Crossrail to Farringdon and then Thameslink or the Metropolitan Line to Kings Cross St. Pancras.
  • Heathrow Express to Paddington and then a taxi.
  • Heathrow Express to Paddington and then the Metropolitan Line
  • Piccadilly Line to Kings Cross St. Pancras.

It could have been designed to be a lot better.

I seem to remember that original plans for the Heathrow Express envisaged St. Pancras as a second London terminal, using the Dudding Hill Line.

But this route is probably impossible owing to there not being enough platforms at St. Pancras, which is A Fur Coat And No Knickers Station.

As there are other operators, who need extra platform space at St. Pancras, perhaps a couple of extra platforms may be built.

But I doubt it!

Integration With Both HS1 And HS2

I said in the previous section, that integration with HS1 is difficult due to the lack of platform space at St. Pancras, due to the lack of platform space.

But it would be possible to do the following.

  •  Arrange for Heathrow Express and/or Crossrail to call at Old Oak Common for HS2.
  • Terminate some Thameslink services at Old Oak Common, thus linking HS1 and HS2.
  • Build an easy entrance at St. Pancras to Thameslink close to Eurostar.
  • It goes without saying, that Old Oak |Common will make interchange easy between the umpteen lines meeting there.

It would certainly give Heathrow a much needed connection to HS1.

It could also create a fast ink between HS1 and HS2, but it would need electrification of the Dudding Hill Line.

Terminals And The Third Runway

Extra terminal capacity, will be able to handle more passengers, but will the runways be able to handle the extra planes?

I suspect there are various strategies, that will keep the number of flights within the capacity of a two-runway airport.

  • Larger aircraft with more capacity, will make better use of slots. 737s and A320s are carrying more passengers.
  • Quieter aircraft, linked to better air traffic control, might givenoise and capacity advantages. Thuis page on the Heathrow web site, is entitled Steeper approach trial report.
  • Reorganisation of air cargo to release slots.
  • Use of Crossrail and/or Heathrow Express to connect to HS1 and HS2.

The more Heathrow use their intelligence, the further into the future the date for the third runway will recede.

Looking At The Cash Flow

Obviously, I don’t have any figures, but sorting out the terminals early and creating extra passenger capacity, may give Heathrow better cash flow to generate the vast sums needed to build the completely new Terminal Six and the third runway.

I’d love to see their full cash flow, but I suspect that the third runway, will only be needed when to expand the traffic, they need m the slots it will deliver.

The early costs would and could be.

  • Fighting the protestors and the politicians.
  • Obtaining Planning Permission.
  • Buying up the private .properties in the way.
  • Rolling out an anti-pollution philosophy.
  • Creating Heathrow West (Terminal Five) and Heathrow East (An Extended Terminal Two)
  • Extending the rail network.
  • Professional fees.

Perhaps by the early 2020s, they would have a strong cash flow and ownership of all the land they might need.

Then at an appropriate time, they would build the new runway and any terminals needed, in the space they had acquired.

As today’s article on the BBC indicated, they wouldn’t even have to build a tunnel for the M25.

It would hopefully be a large, but reasonable straightforward construction operation.

The Opposition Is Gathering

This article in the Independent is entitled Heathrow expansion: Airlines react to Government’s airport decision.

 

  • Stewart Wingate of Gatwick of Gatwick is quoted as being disappointed and saying he’ll read the Government’s reasons in detail.
  • Dame Carolyn McCall of easyJet, said their planned move to Heathrow is contingent on the right deal.
  • Willie Walsh of BA’s parent said he was pleased a decision had been made.
  • Craig Kreeger of Virgin Atlantic, said: “We support expansion, provided it delivers for our customers.”
  • Nick Burton of Luton Airport said that we must now fopcus on demand before the new runway is built in 10-15 years time.
  • Charlie Cornish, chief executive of Stansted’s owner, Manchester Airports Group, said that we should make the best use of the runways we;ve got.

That doesn’t sound like a vote of confidence to me.

And I haven’t included all those who will lose their homes, the environmental protesters and those like me who don’t like Heathrow’s attitude.

The statistics are also not on Heathrow’s side either, as traffic is growing fast and another runway is needed soon, with a second one perhaps ten years later, to satisfy rising demand for air travel.

So What Could Happen?

Much of this is speculation, but Nostradamus couldn’t predict this one.

  •  In The Planemakers’ View On The South East’s New Runway, I quoted from an article in The Times, which said that Heathrow’s hub model is superseded by the views of the planemakers, who think it’s all about point-to-point flights in appropriate aircraft.
  • Gatwick could probably apply for permission for a second runway in 2019.
  • Luton, Southend and Stansted Airports are ambitious and want to expand.
  • Better rail services to Stansred Airport have been announced.
  • Luton Airport wants a better rail service.
  • Birmingham Airport gets a connection to HS2 in the mid-2020s.
  • Eurostar and other companies will increasingly add rail services to Europe.

These and other factors will eat into Heathrow’s market share, thus delaying that crucial point, where the third runway needs to be built.

But that doesn’t really solve the short term problem  The only way to satisfy that is to create a runway in the South-East as soon as possible.

And the only place that can be built is Gatwick.

The growth in air traffic will continue and a few years later, Heathrow will get its runway.

 

 

October 26, 2016 - Posted by | Travel | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] I proposed this in Will The Third Runway At Heathrow Be Actually Built In The Near Future? […]

    Pingback by Could Old Oak Common Be London’s Super Hub Station? « The Anonymous Widower | October 29, 2016 | Reply


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