Ryanair and BA oppose UK high speed rail plans
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/guardian.co.uk, 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.
Ryanair: “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.
IATA: "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: guardian.co.uk, 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: guardian.co.uk, 05-Aug-09.