Government rejection of plans to link Heathrow to the planned HS2 high speed rail network has been condemned by the body representing business travel agents.
Guild of Travel Management Companies chief executive Paul Wait (pictured) described the decision to dismiss the proposed Heathrow spur as “incredibly disappointing and frustrating”.
He said: “Without that connectivity to Heathrow government is delivering half a job and as such surely it can only be referred to as HS one and a half.”
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin ruled out the plan, saying: “I would now like to make clear that we do not intend to build the spur as part of Phase 1 or 2 of the HS2 scheme.”
He cited the Airports Commission review findings – published in November – which “indicated that an HS2 spur is highly unlikely to be necessary to support any expansion of Heathrow airport”.
The government had previously said any decision about the Heathrow spur would be delayed until the Airport Commission’s report on future UK airport capacity had been completed.
Wait said: “As outlined in the recent GTMC manifesto, the potential service link between HS2 and Heathrow Airport via a Heathrow spur from Old Oak Common and linking HS2 with the existing HS1 service holds great value.
“Such services ensure business travellers reach their destinations with the greatest speed and ease, making it easier for business to take place, as well as increase business travel productivity.
“It is incredibly disappointing and frustrating that this proposal has been dismissed as increasing access and ease of use encourages greater utilisation – Eurostar and HS1 is a classic example of that.
“In addition, simply reducing the number of interchanges required to access key infrastructure would mean a great improvement on the ability for business travellers to work while on the move by removing the inconvenience and delays of multiple changes of train.
“From our regular conversations with business travellers we know that they work while en route, in fact our recent business rail traveller survey shows that 80% of business rail travellers typically work through a large proportion of a 50 miles-plus rail journey.
“It is vital that business travellers can ensure their journeys are as swift and easy as possible to maximise on time for business to take place and that they are given the full opportunity to work while they are on the move.
“Not supporting this is detrimental as business travellers play an intrinsic part in driving a sustainable economic recovery.”
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