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Ryanair and BA oppose UK high speed rail plans

6-Aug-2009 11:24 AM

Ryanair expressed opposition to the UK Government’s plans to construct a high speed rail network to replace short haul air services, to assist with the government’s plans to decrease carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050 (Mail Online/, 05-Aug-09). British Airways welcomed the plan, but added it would not substitute air services. IATA added that considering the UK has taken decades to plan a third runway at London Heathrow Airport, it may take even longer to complete a high speed rail network. Transport Secretary, Lord Adonis, responded stating high speed rail already has 80% market share on services from London to Paris and Brussels.

“It is insane. The only link you have is one highly priced tunnel. People are not going to travel to the UK regions, including the Lake District and Cornwall, on a [Eurostar] train that only stops at Kent and London St Pancras,” Michael O’Leary, CEO. Source: Mail Online, 05-Aug-09.

British Airways: “We strongly support high-speed rail links and would very much welcome a high-speed rail hub at Heathrow. This would reduce the need for flights to some of the nearest destinations and increase travel to and from Heathrow by public transport. However, high-speed rail cannot be a complete substitute for flying.  There are relatively few destinations in Continental Europe to which it would be practical to travel and return by rail in a day.” Spokesperson. Source: Mail Online, 05-Aug-09.

"When building 3km of runway takes decades, the challenges of criss-crossing the country corridors of high-speed rail infrastructure will be enormous. And for what gain? Putting aside the astronomical costs and timescales of such a project, has the secretary thought about the total carbon lifecycle impact of building so much rail infrastructure? Exactly how many Channel tunnels will be built?" Spokesperson. Source:, 05-Aug-09.

UK Government:
"Those who think that the airlines will continue to monopolise short-haul European destinations from London have got their heads in the sand. It is nonsense to suggest that high-speed rail will be competitive with airlines only for internal British journeys. High-speed rail already has the lion's share of the London to Paris and Brussels market. Once the Dutch high-speed line from Brussels to Amsterdam is open later this year, rail will be competitive from London to Amsterdam and Rotterdam; and it won't be long before the same is true of Cologne and Frankfurt." Lord Adonis, Transport Secretary. Source:, 05-Aug-09.