28 December 2012

HM e-petitions - some which are still open.

Her Majesty´s government, in a effort to act more transparently and within the ways of thinking of the voters, has been using the possibility of presenting petitions online to the government. The aim is to give voters the way to express their opinions over a wide variety of issues with the most supported gaining a voice in the House of Commons. This aspect of British democracy is not that widely known or used.

Since this blog is devoted to transport issues in the UK this blogger thought it might prove useful for readers to see some of the petitions which are still open and thus able to be adhered to for those who wish to. Obviously, this list, though extensive, is not comprehensive. I have used the petitions pending, only at the Dept. for Transport and not those which might be found at other offices or departments. The total number of petitions at the DfT is 675 while for the whole government it comes to 6315.

The most successful petition open at the moment is that dealing with the Virgin Trains fiasco, when it was going to be discharged from its duties as a rail franchisee to be replaced by the First Group. As readers will remember this has provoked a scandal at the Department for Transport, leading to the suspension of the proposed change and Virgin Trains remaining the franchisee for the next two years. It can still be signed up to mid February.
Reconsider West Coast Mainline franchise decision.

However, that petition is not the only one dealing with
rail franchises.
Reinstate Virgin Trains WCML

West Coast rail Franchise

Do not renew West Coast's Franchise 

Do not reconsider giving First Group WCML Franchise

Take West Coast line from Branson's Virgin 

Government to pay for West Coast failure

West coast rail line public money 


These do not mean that commentators are not concerned about other franchises
Users of train services to have bigger say over franchise renewals

Introduce public consultation into rail franchising 

Review First Capital Connect's franchise

Abandon rail franchising and hand all existing franchises to state-owned Directly Operated Railways as they expire.

Nationalise the Railways of Britain

Bring back British Railways

nationalise railways

Make public transport state owned across England and Wales

Keep The East Coast Mainline Rail Franchise In Public Ownership

Abandon East Coast Mainline franchise and run the line on an open access basis

Southestern Railway Metro Line Passenger Campaign

London Midland - Should Be Stripped of Contract 

London Midland should face disciplinary action

London Midland Franchise to be Removed 

Strip First Capital Connect of Thameslink Franchise Immediately

Stop Greater Anglia Franchise Renewal

Punish walking away from rail franchises with a ban on bidding for Government contracts

Train opperators who have mismanaged previous franchises should not be able to bid for current trainline franchises.

High Speed Rail link and other rail investment.

HS2 Alternative Route (Bow Group Route)

Introduce HS2 prior to 2033.

No to HSR2 Yes to Superfast Broadband 

Re-build Great Central Railway instead of building HS2

H2O not HS2

Stop HS2 in the Chilterns

If High speed rail (HS2) is built ensure UK trains are used


HS2 to stop at towns on the way to Birmingham

Rail Link £32b HS2 Good Idea but cost will end up £64b as always Govt project are late & cost will double.

17 Billion spent on HR2 would be better spent on Truck Roads and Cycle only lanes

Defence Cuts v. HS2

hs2 heathrow hub ltd

Citizenship Assessment Stop HS2 campaign

A demand fair Compention for Compulsory Orders for HS2

Though not all refer to HS2


Lower Rail Fares: Disband Network Rail and hand all infrastructure to the train companies

Investigate the benefits of Maglev technology


High Speed Rail to North East and Scotland

Time for the Government to take into account the infrastructure problems in South East Essex

More carriages for cross country train service 

Creation of a Eurostar Hub in Leicester

Bring the £9.5 Billion rail investment forward

Electrify the Weston super line as Bristol is just not far enough

Extend the electrification of the Trans Pennine route to Kingston upon Hull

why is the government subsidising rail companies?

Increase the frequency of rail journeys between major cities and surrounding towns. 

The UK Government to stop subsidising the rail link to Scotland if Scotland goes independent.

Most in this section refer to Heathrow and the possibility of an airport in the Thames estuary, though some would castigate certain politicians by building a new airport in their constituencies.

Say NO to the Thames Estuary Airport!
Peak Oil and Airport Expansion

Charges for pick-up and drop-off parking at airports

All faces uncovered at airports, shops and city centres

Restrict the Number of Flights into Heathrow Airport

Stop Heathrow 'Freedom' Trials over Fulham, Putney and Barnes 

Expand Birmingham Airport instead of Heathrow


Build The Severn Barrier and new London Island Airport now

Put in place a strong and long term decision regarding the expansion of London's airport capacity before 2015

Build a new commercial airport in Tim Yeo's constituency

Stop Heathrow Operational Freedoms Trial with immediate effect - all areas

Build a third runway at Heathrow.

A New International Airport between Bristol & Worcester

Estuary Airport at the Hoo

Build the 'Boris Island' airport rather than HS2

London and South East airport expansion.

boring "air traffic"

Thames Estuary Airport - Move west rather than east

The Civil Aviation Authority is not fit for purpose

Build A New International Airport in David Cameron's constituency

Is the Davies Airport Commission fit for purpose, considering it will take two and a half years to deliver their findings?

repealing liquid law on flights

Provide a smoking area at UK Airport

Airport Security Staff should not be employed by the individual airports owners.

Reciprocity in airline/infrastructre takeovers 

What can be done about aircraft noise? Petition for aircraft noise to be classed as a statutory nuisance.

package airline seating arrangements

This section deals with a real pot-pourri of subjects, though most refer to roads and road traffic.
Miscellaneous :

A1(M) upgrade.

Project Alexander: dual the A1 from Morpeth to Berwick

Stop the proposed destruction of the world's first passenger railway line in Manchester by Network Rail's Ordsall link aaand alternatives be found.

save manchester mayfield station

Reduce The Driving Age To 16

Fuel Cost in Rural Areas Needs Discounting

NO to London formula one proposal

Use this recession (spare construction capacity, lower costs) to build new motorway between London and Cornwall

Amended Action on the M62 Managed Motorway Plan


Remove seven bridge toll

Scrap the Severn bridge toll charge

The Future of Tolls on the Severn River Crossings 


Improve transport links within Falklands. 

Implementation of a completely driverless system for the London Underground

forces travel

British Armed Forces Free Transport

Add a junction to the M4 between 2 and 3 (near Chiswick roundabout)

Use this recession (lower costs, spare construction capacity) period to build new motorway to fill obvious gaps and complete the existing network.

A5 Hockliffe Bypass

The State Of Rail Travel In Lincolnshire

Trains should have adequate seating for 2nd class passengers

Surrey Bus Services within M25

Save Mersey Ferries

re openkildwick and crosshills railway station

Bus Passes That Work Across The UK

Somerset & Dorset railway

Timetable fast South West Train services from Ascot to London Waterloo and vice versa.

Raise the speed limit on the M6 toll to 80mph

Ban private cars from UK roads 

Preventing disruption to train services due to weather

Increase Speedlimits on British Motorways to 100Mph

M64 - Stoke on Trent to Leciester. Congestion in stoke is ridiculous, as a result of cars clogging the streets, please help my city, please help me.

Create a motorway link from M54 to Welshpool

A40 between Oxford and Witney

Trains inspections and money devolution for delays and poor service in the national trains

A12 improvements London to Ipswich

Improving the Ipswich stretch of the A14

Dartford River Crossing - tolls on northbound carriageway only 

Improve Traffic Flow At Dartford Toll Crossing

Replace tolls at dartford crossing with congestion tax style technology

Scrap the Dartford crossing tolls

Stop the Toll increse of 50p in October 2012 & 2014 for the Dartford Crossing Kent & Essex

Rename Dartford Crossing the Dick Turpin Way

ban new toll roads

No tolls at Blackwall tunnel

New River Crossing between Essex/Kent

Petition for an extra train carriage on the Tarka Line (from Barnstaple to Exeter and vice versa)

Later running trains and tube

Search and Rescue Helicopter for N.Ireland

Do not nationalise Search and Rescue

Scrap Budget Airlines' hidden charges

Lack of transport in rural communities

Make public transport state owned across England and Wales

Re-Nationalisation of London Buses

End aviation subsidy

Campaign against short hop air travel 

Re-open the disused Wisbech &  March Railway line

Reinstate the Lewes - Uckfield Rail Link

Reconnect the Pickering to Malton Rail Link

Preservation & Reopening of the Llangollen to Ruabon Railway 

Introduce a half hourly Wrexham Bidston rail service

Stop Thameslink/Wimbledon loop terminating at Blackfriars

Protect Disused railway track beds from development

Save Preston Bus Station

Stop Preston City Council Demolition of Bus Station

Change the definition of an 'on time' train

As can be seen there are many petitions pertaining to the same subject. This is despite the website insisting you look for another petition on the same subject before you submit one.

For me it just goes to show how a government can deluge us with lots of information about a subject which we end up not reading in case we have an opinion about it. Thus its effectiveness as a democratic tool is reduced..

However, I still consider this to be a positive way of voicing opinions, and can be used much more in the future.

Please note that you can sign more than one petition if you are so inclined - even if the subject is the same.


20 November 2012

Luton - a viable alternative hub to Heathrow

As I mentioned in the previous blog (18-10-12), in the document presented on 5 October 2012 by  Policy Exchange called "Bigger and Quieter: the right answer for aviation"(written by Tim Leunig of Centre Forum) there was an alternative offered to a third runway at Heathrow . The author firstly proposed a four runway airport situated further west at Heathrow. The previous blog is my answer to that. I basically consider it to be too ambitious and so unlikely to be ever considered seriously.

The other alternative offered to the lack of runways in South East England was to expand Luton into a four runway airport. I originally proposed that idea more than two years before - 5th July 2010 - "Luton - The Next Best Bet ?" However, there are major differences which will be pointed out.

Luton airport´s own proposals:
However, let us look at what Luton airport itself is proposing for its future. On 16th January 2012 the operators of Luton airport called for ideas/opinions about the future. In an article titled "London Luton Airport seeks to expand capacity" (Breaking Travel News) the company wanted  to look at the possibility of increasing the airport capacity by over 50% to about 18 million/pax/annum  The result was the setting up of a project with its corresponding website called ‘futureLuToN:Optimisation’ and the revised masterplan which was published September 2012. Obviously the brief to design the plan was to develop the airport within the present limitations imposed by the government. Thus the plan envisages better use of the one runway within the present physical boundaries, but with better distribution of all the services provided at the airport.

The reason it is called a revised masterplan was because earlier the Luton airport operator (LLAOL) produced a masterplan to add to the government´s paper of 2003 about runway use in the South East. The Luton Airport Masterplan of 2005 used a development brief published in September 2001 but this was subsequently withdrawn in 2007 as being too expensive.

Other proposals:
There has been another proposal, by London architects Weston Williamson, to expand Luton Published in the London Evening Standard 24-10--2012 "Heathrow battle: How Luton could be ‘England’s airport’ - Proposal for a nationwide hub with four runways is unveiled" though not everyone is in favour.

four runway Luton airport (looking Eastwards)                                                          (c) Weston Williamson
As can be seen from the illustration Weston Williamson plan the airport as having four runways just south of Luton and next to the Midland Mainline railway (MML)

To operate independently each runway has to have a  separation of at least 1035 meters from its next parallel one. This enables each runway to have landings or take-offs irrespective of what is happening on the next parallel runway. Mixed-mode is another system of operation whereby one runway is used for both landings and take-offs at the same time, such as is the case of Gatwick at the moment. In the picture shown above, two pairs of runways are in use at a minimum of 380 meters between each pair. Of each pair one is used for landings and the other for take-offs. The plane ready for take-off has to wait for the other runway to be clear i.e. the landing plane has to have cleared the runway on to the taxiway or be just ready to do so. This means that the usage of the pair of runways is more intensive than mixed-mode but less than two independent runways. It is the way the two Manchester runways are used at present which are 390 meters apart. This way of operation, of course, limits the usage of the runways but uses less land.

The Policy Exchange/Centre Forum proposal:
Tim Leunig for Policy Exchange proposed something similar. The first suggestion was to place the runways at Luton Hoo. This is the area between the MML and the M1 motorway. Since this is controversial - Luton Hoo being a historical site, as well of lack of space - he also proposed an alternative site to be east of the MML as is Weston Williamson´s. There would be a terminal station straddling the MML and a road link to the M1 motorway. A  light rail system, similar to the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) in London would run a shuttle between Tring on the West Coast Mainline (WCML) via the airport to Knebworth on the East Coast Mainline (ECML).

 Most of the ideas for this secondary proposal are good and should be read in detail. The details are given in the document   "Bigger and Quieter: the right answer for aviation"
on pages 53 to 56. However, it should be pointed out that there are no illustrations (as there are for the Heathrow project) and he does draw heavily on ideas already expressed in the Heathrow plan.

This blogger´s biggest objections are two. One is to his idea of a light railway to connect the WCML (at Tring) to the airport and then on to the ECML (at Knebworth). The idea has its value, which he expresses, in that it is easier to build, can turn tighter corners and can negotiate bigger gradients. That is true but it ignores one major consideration - connectivity - which this blogger has been propounding for a long time. The other objection is that if we are going to build a a big megahub to serve the country for the next century why put limitations into its use? If the idea is to build four runways then let them be independent ones so as to maximise their potential use.   

This proposal:
The map image below (courtesy of Google Earth) shows how this blogger envisages the layout between Luton and Harpenden, and between the airport and Stevenage. It should be pointed out that to the west no population centre of note is affected until Aylesbury which is at a distance of 28kms.(In comparison that is the distance from the end of Heathrow´s northern runway to the Thames at the Isle of Dogs/Docklands). This means the noise would be less than bothersome for the good people of Aylesbury.

The distance from the MML to the end of each runway is calculated at about 4kms. This would include the present extended runway and three new ones further to the south towards Harpenden. The length  of each would cover the necessities of runway length, overuns and runway approach light emplacement. The distance between each would be 1100 meters (greater than the minimum of 1035 meters facilitating independent operation with taxiways and the building of a terminal with satellites in  a "toast rack" formation. In comparison the distance between the runways at Heathrow is 1420 meters.

Obviously, a start would be made by building the second runway and then extending the present one with the appropriate taxiways. The present terminal buildings would be used during the construction stage but the main terminal would be between the first and second runways together with the rail links. When the runways, terminal, rail  and road links are finished then the present terminals can be closed  and the service, cargo and maintenance facilities transferred to new buildings south of the second runway, while the present site is sold off for development. The third and fourth runways would not be built immediately but when demand dictates it. In the meantime the necessary land would be reserved for future use.

With the services south of the second runway and eventually between the second and third, their, relatively easy, access to the four runways is assured. With the building of the third and fourth runways then a new terminal and satellites can be built  between them. This way operators would use either the northern terminal (using the first and second runways), or the southern terminal using the third and fourth runways. Such would be the case that no cross -runway traffic would be necessary.  Thus there would not be a proliferation of terminals just two large ones with their attendant satellites. Any extra services which might be needed would find room south of the fourth runway (just north of Harpenden). 

The area bounded by Luton, Harpenden and Stevenage showing the layout of the four runways and a possible route for a train link between the MML and the ECML.
One further consideration must be taken into account. Since the site can be planned as a whole from the word go then mistakes made in previous generations must not be repeated. By this I mean no new building, especially of residential property  must be permitted under the flightpaths at both extremes of the airport´s four runways. As a benchmark it would be prudent to prohibit any building west of the  A1(M) trunk road. the same can be said for the area west of the runways up to, at the very least the M1 motorway. In fact it might well be more prudent to extend the limit westwards to the A4146 and B4506 roads just to the west of Whipsnade.Though such construction is unlikely it is surely better to enforce it from the beginning so that there is no encroachment.

The distance from the end of the runways to Stevenage is (at its nearest point) 8kms. To give you an idea of the equivalent distance from Heathrow, 8kms. is from the end of the southern runway to the river Thames at Isleworth. This means that not an inordinate amount of noise would be suffered under the flight paths. Together with better designed aircraft and engines of the newer generation aircraft, and a steeper approach for landing the noise levels would be decreased further(as explained by Tim Leunig). In fact the measurement was made up to the edge of the A1(M) trunk road so the noise created by traffic on that road would be more of a nuisance than aircraft noise at that point.

Usually everybody looks at the connections from the airport to "London". This is quite understandable since one supposes that the vast majority of passengers would originate from/to London. I think, however, that the other connections are more important to look at,initially, since they also determine the traffic to the airport and they often get forgotten in the plan. This plan is a part and parcel of the whole so should not be ignored which is why I wish to mention it first. The success of a venture is not necessarily as a result of the prime market - please take note.

As you can see from the map below we have shown various solutions to the problem.

(a) the connection : Airport- Stevenage:
This is an essential connection to the ECML. Tim Leunig´s document suggested a connection from the airport to Knebworth. I reject this. The distance might well be shorter to connect to London but it does not solve the connection problem. Knebworth only has connections with First Capital Connect(FCC) (Regional) trains. On the other hand Stevenage is an important stop for FCC, First Hull trains, East Coast and could well be a stop for Grand Central trains. To demand a change in stopping patterns is too much in such a short distance. Thus what we will have is a good service from points north to have a one stop connection to the airport.

There are three possibilities to connect westwards to the WCML. Here we consider that the connection to the WCML should be at Milton Keynes. The reason is the same as mentioned to Stevenage. Milton Keynes provides regional services with Southern (and its eventual inheritors), London Midland, and intercity services with Virgin trains(and its inheritors?). The possibilities of providing connections for employment at the airport are also increased by the connections at Milton Keynes and Stevenage.

Consider the three possibilities from south to north:

(b) there is an existing (unused) rail line from the MML at Luton to Leighton Buzzard. The rights of way will already exist and so the reconstruction would not be excessive. The re-construction of the line involves 19kms. some of which can be easily rebuilt and some is already occupied by other buildings. It is a single track railway so either it should be double-tracked or passing sections would need to be provided. An advantage, not to be ignored, would be the possibility of offering local services at Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard on the route. However, it should also be mentioned that the route is rather tortuous so the maximum speeds attained would not be be so great.The overall distance from the airport to Milton Keynes using this way would be about 39.6 kms.

(c) This route would separate from the MML north of Luton town about where the MML touches the M1. It would be a completely new line to just north of Leighton Buzzard of about 14 kms. in length of new construction. There would be no substantial interesting populations to serve along the route so could work out a more rapid route than the previous option.The overall distance from the airport to Milton Keynes using this way would be about 38.2 kms.

(d) The third option is to use the MML up to north of Flitwick from where a cord can be built to the Bedford-Bletchley line. The new construction would mean about 6.25kms. of new rail (by far the shorter distance). A new cord would also be necessary at Bletchley to connect to the WCML but would be of about 750 meters. So the total new construction would be no greater than 7 kms.The overall distance from the airport to Milton Keynes using this way would be about 43 kms. The advantage of this route is that the line from Bedford to Bletchley has or / is being upgraded for freight traffic with double track so increasing the capacity. This means that the adaptation to new workings, track, ballast, signalling and resulting line speed, is the least onerous. For these reasons it is my preferred option.

The area between Milton Keynes, Luton airport and Stevenage showing the rail link to Stevenage and the three possible routes to the WCML

New services:
Whichever option is preferred the possibility exists then of providing semi-express or even local services between Milton Keynes and Stevenage via Luton airport. This would serve four groups (i) those wishing to connect from the WCML(at MK) from the north (ii) those wishing to connect from the MML (at Luton)  (iii)those wishing to connect from the north via Stevenage from the ECML and (iv) those who live in the area and wish to work at the airport or even wish to have better regional connections,(v) and other possibilities onwards.
Connection to London and ...:
This is what people look at firstly. The present service from London St.Pancras is provided by East Midland trains(EMT) and FCC. FCC services also run from there to south of the Thames, even to Gatwick airport and Brighton. That is a good connection. However, because of the present track layout trains run to Luton Airport Parkway before continuing northwards, when there is a direct airport connection the rail traffic pattern would have to change.

(e) this blogger envisages a rail traffic pattern where trains run from Brighton (possibly), Gatwick (most certainly) through central London (Elephant & Castle(?), Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon, St.Pancras)  on to West Hampstead and Luton airport. Of course there would be a return service in the reverse direction. However, this blogger envisages that any service would continue from Luton airport to Stevenage, Finsbury Park, and (either) Kings Cross or Moorgate (via Highbury & Islington ). This latter option would be interesting for potential customers in the City. However, though feasible since there are two free unused platforms at Moorgate it might prove too difficult to put into effect. It should be remembered that Farringdon will be an important station on Crossrail with connections to Heathrow and London City airports. Moorgate on the other hand will not be an official station on Crossrail but will have direct underground tunnel connections to the station and platforms at Liverpool Street which is the official stop on the Crossrail line. Thus the resulting service would be from Gatwick northwards to Central London and on  to Luton airport returning via Stevenage to Kings Cross or Moorgate, and vice versa.

Another possibility exists, but might be unnecessary, which is to provide through regional commuter services from Milton Keynes either via Luton to St. Pancras, or via Luton, the airport and Stevenage to Kings Cross/Moorgate. No option should be ignored.

Whichever option is chosen is of importance because the passenger traffic flows to the airport can increase or not because of the greater accessibility of the airport. Many times it is not a question of theoretical journey times which determine a traffic flow but the convenience offered. A five or ten minute difference might well be ignored if the connection can be made more comfortably with only one change instead of two or three. Lumping cases on to and off trains is an important factor to take into consideration.

 We propose a better connection to the M1 motorway which does not interfere with the local Luton traffic as well as a good connection to the A1(M) trunk road to provide alternative routes both north and south, as well as to those parts of the country which interest the users without blocking up the system.

This is a subject I have not mentioned in detail. I consider that the provision of public transport is of paramount importance. The more the public transport system is used the more it is considered as important. When it is considered important the result will be a lessening of demand for road transport. Here we come back to the ideas of connectivity and convenience. Why leave your car in a long-term car park for two weeks if you do have a comfortable, convenient and well connected public transport system. If we can take transport off the roads then all the better for those who really need it.

The effect on Stansted:
Tim Leunig is of the opinion that Stansted airport would have to close with any expansion of Luton. This probably would not be the case immediately as all things are transitory. However, it must be considered as a possibility, eventually. This would mean compensation for the owners of Stansted. It should be emphasised here that in November 2012 the present owners BAA must still sell the airport. Obviously the new owners are very much interested in knowing if there are possibilities of expansion or not - i.e. will they have paid over the odds in the long term?

The traffic patterns with a two runway airport at Luton need not affect Stansted too much. Quite a different question is the working of a four runway airport at Luton. Then without doubt the restrictions on air movements at Stansted would be notable. Its status might well be reduced to that of Southend at the moment - this airport has to fit in its traffic flows with London City and Stansted, so its capacity is reduced. The same would happen at Stansted where, at most, it could have some regular flights, but most likely would have to find another role e.g. as a maintenance depot (as Cardiff is at present for BA).

This blogger considers that the expansion of Luton airport is most certainly essential together with the expansion of Heathrow to three runways and Gatwick to two.
As we noted, 5th July 2010, on the Conservative - Liberal Democrat coalition government coming to power the prohibition of expansion at South East England airports specifically mentioned Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. It did not mention Luton which resulted in the blog of that date. The question is, is that the get out clause for the government? This blogger considers it so. It is an area with few Conservative and no Lib-Dems candidates worrying about their seats. The job prospects produced by expansion for the local populace can only be seen as positive. The alternatives to doing nothing are a decline in the fortunes of the country, therefore, expansion has to take place - somewhere or somewheres.

Why not expand this airport north of London to serve the rest of the country as well ,and so avoid gridlock in the capital, meaning that any out-of-London passengers would not have to transit the capital. The question of funnelling passengers( and other traffic) through the capital´s transport system is something which has never been mentioned but needs to be.That, however, is another question at which we will look eventually.

18 October 2012

Heathrow closure: 2/2 - it will not happen

If the points mentioned in the previous blog are not sufficient to convince anybody about the reasons for keeping Heathrow open,then there are still many more to discuss to clarify the future of the airport.

In the Mayor of London´s Transport Strategy report of June 2010, it states on page 242 
 "The international connectivity that aviation provides is crucial to the competitiveness of London´s economy in this era of globalisation. Therefore, strict limits on aviation growth in the London area are not tenable, nor would be effective with demand shifting to competing aviation hubs."

So, the Mayor, Boris Johnson, recognises the need for new runways. Actually, no; the reality of the situation is much more cynical. He does want a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary but not at the existing London airports.
The answer why is quite clear.

1 - Votes. His present constituency is Greater London, and not wider - roughly that area which is encompassed within the orbital motorway round London (M25) . The City and Heathrow airports are inside that ring while Gatwick, Stansted and Luton are outside. To propose any of those three airports to be designated a hub (as opposed to Heathrow) he could be clearly accused of "passing the buck" - especially as two of them form part of  "the Conservative Party" heartlands. By, firstly, proposing a new hub in the Thames Estuary, and later unashamedly supporting any other person or group (such as  Foster and Partners and  Gensler architects) who propose any alternative in the Estuary he is seen as grasping at straws.
 Despite the extremely strong arguments against any estuary airport Mayor Boris perceives himself as the politician who solves two problems (a) providing the needed expansion of runway capacity in the South East of England and (b) reducing the pollution (noise and fumes) levels in the capital so as to achieve the targets(not already met) to the satisfaction of Brussels. Achieving that, the voters of London might well thank him for it, but those affected (not his constituents/voters) by any new airport most certainly would not. The air traffic controllers  as well as the councils of Medway and the county of Kent have already come out against such an Estuary airport.This is not for the general good as he pretends but pure, egoistical, cynical politicking - nothing else.

2 - As was mentioned in the previous paragraph, as well as the previous blog, the British government is charged with reducing air pollution - whatever the cause. The London Assembly, under the Mayor, has to put this into practice. As you can see on the same page 242  of the strategy report, the effect of aviation pollution is not large compared to other forms of road transport, with both taxis and cars (separately) having greater emissions of CO2. In the previous blog you saw that 22% of emissions are attributable to transport of which 14% corresponds to rail, 72% to cars, buses and goods vehicles etc. while 14% corresponds to aviation (all ground and air usage up to 1000 meters) - this means 3.1% of all air pollution in/over London (so much!!). "Passing the buck" to another airport by closing Heathrow easily facilitates the problem of reduction of air pollution for Mayor Boris, though this, as shown, is only a minor part of the problem. Of course this is plain (pun intended) hypocrisy.

Thus the Mayor´s high profile media campaigns have to be seen in their true light. Remember that at the present time he is seen as a strong candidate to take over the Conservative leadership from David Cameron if/when the latter slips up. Thus Boris needs successes in his pocket.

Whatever the politics of the question concerning airport expansion some people work at trying to find solutions which can square the circle.

One such solution to the question of airport capacity and its associated problems was a 70 page document published 5th October 2012 by Policy Exchange called "Bigger and Quieter: the right answer for aviation"(written by Tim Leunig of Centre Forum).

This envisages the present northern and southern Heathrow runways being extended about three kilometers westwards over the M25 and the reservoirs there. They would have parallel runways 380 meters apart to the south and another 380 meters apart to the north. The distance between the inner southern and northern runways would have to be 1035 meters at least. That would make a four runway layout. The southern runways would operate independently from the northern ones (as at present) but dependent on each other similarly to a mixed-mode operation. The aircraft taking off from the inner runway would thus have to wait for the incoming aircraft to land on the outer runway before moving. This makes for a higher potential usage than mixed-mode on the present two runways, but is still very similar. The estimation is for a capacity rise from the actual 480,000 movements to about 850,000 movements per year with an increase in annual passenger capacity from the actual 70 million to 121 million.The estimated cost is much less than any green field(or water) site as much of the infrastructure is already in place.

The document goes into a lot of detail. It talks about passenger entry/exit, transfer between terminals and about layout to simplify ground movements for aircraft thus saving on ground distance to be covered and so kerosene to be burned. The principal argument to move the runways westwards is to increase the approach heights over west London. With a steeper landing inclination (and on take off) at 5.5º, instead of the present 3º it would mean that over Richmond planes would be approaching at 1400meters rather than the 800 meters now, thus reducing the noise effect. The aircraft types are looked at, in addition to the present restrictions, with the eventual aim of prohibiting certain older, noisier and greater fuel guzzlers.

A Thames Estuary hub is rejected, as is a third runway at Heathrow and expansion of Gatwick and Stansted airports. However, the document does state that if its Heathrow proposals are rejected then Luton would be a viable alternative as a four runway airport. (this is an idea which this blogger proposed on 5th July 2010 - "Luton - The Next Best Bet ?")

This blogger finds the document to be one of the best on the subject of airport expansion in the South East of England and should be read by everyone who claims to know the solution to Heathrow and greater capacity. However,as is to be expected, I do not agree with some points. Those criticisms relating to Luton airport, few to be sure, can be dealt with at another time.

The proposal to extend the runways 3 kilometers west of the present Heathrow layout is radical. It does not take into account the effect on Old Windsor, Windsor itself, Datchet and other settlements.
Even if that is the price to pay, the runways do not need to be extended three kilometers. If you extended them westwards(the northern runway 800 meters while the southern even up to 1.5 kilometers) to the M25 you could help alleviate the noise problem over west London. Planes would just have to land further down the (longer) runway. The noise problem could thus be alleviated to a real extent without affecting large numbers or costing extensive amounts of money.
This proposal  would involve just the expropriation of a couple of dozen properties at Stanwell Moor for the southern runway but none for the northern. The present southern and northern runways extended westwards as indicated could well be enough for noise reduction.

The proposed additional two runways would be helpful, of course, but would only provide part of the answer, expensive to deliver and affect larger numbers of people / properties. What the writer in the report, Tim Leunig, has not mentioned is that with his proposal the two southern and two northern runways would be operating as two mini airports, independently, in their own right. There would be no alternation between the northern and the southern runways for landings and take-offs thus making them work all day. At present there is an agreement about alternating usage on each runway, which is a modification of the previous Cranford Agreement, so as to give residents in the area east of the airport (principally) relief from aircraft noise. The net effect is to double the bother to residents. Thus this blogger rejects the proposal of double runways.

The idea of a third runway(R3) could be beneficial to the residents affected at the moment by not changing these agreements of runway alternation. It would affect a different group  of residents in the area but not as much if this blogger´s proposals were taken into account. See the blog "Heathrow´s 3rd runway - how to focus" of 23rd February 2012. The ideas there expressed were to make R3 an independent operation so not interrupting operations on the two main runways and being limited to smaller, thus quieter, aircraft. In fact if propeller driven aircraft were used (an impossibility now on the main runways) there would be no noticeable effect outside the airport boundary on take-offs and landings. The idea is feasible and viable, but also beneficial to local residents as the irritants would be minimal.

The placement of R3 has to be chosen carefully so as to cause minimal effect on the present occupants of the area and the residents affected by operations. If R3 were pushed up to as near as possible to the M4 as legalities(both present and foreseeable), possible M4 widening,  and practicalities permit, as well as being started nearer the M25 at its western end, then even a lot of the demolition of properties would not be necessary. This might mean the runway would have to be about 250 meters south of the M4 at its nearest point. If that were done, even with a 3km. runway (to serve all emergency eventualities, for the whole airport as mentioned in previous blogs on the subject), then Harlington would not need any properties to be expropriated. Harmondsworth need not be affected to a great extent. Sipson would still be affected but to a lesser degree than the present plans. R3 would operate in mixed-mode fashion (alternating landings and take-offs on the same runway).

With R3 being built (terminal 6) T6 is needed with its satellites.  That way you provide the extra terminal capacity without altering the present plans for T1 and T2. It also means that aircraft using R3 would use their own terminal and would not have to cross/interfere with the northern (main) runway to reach other terminals. R3 would be far enough north of the present northern runway to be able to operate independently from it. The effect on Harmondsworth could be much less dramatic, meaning a lower number of expropriations. What must not be forgotten is that some properties along the A4 would have to make way for taxiways to connect the main part of the airport to T6 and R3, though not all have to be houses and hotels some would be carparks.

The government is pressing ahead with plans to connect Heathrow to HS2 - the high speed rail line from Central London to Birmingham and eventually northwards. Nothing is being said at the moment but they are convinced that the connection is needed. The proponents of the idea see it as the solution to the problems, at Heathrow, of ever increasing overcrowding both in the terminals and on the runways so reducing the need for airport expansion.

The idea for the HS2 and other rail connections to Heathrow are based on two assumptions. One is that passengers will transfer from domestic flights to rail thus eliminating the need for domestic flights - this is completely erroneous. That has not been the case anywhere. Some passengers always find it more convenient to connect to a flight to their home airport from where it is easier and quicker to get home.

What the politicians do not mention is, if it works as envisaged, rail would funnel more and more passengers on to flights at Heathrow. The passengers would find Heathrow more attractive instead of them using connecting flights through other European hubs.

The result of this would be twofold if the idea works. There would be fewer connecting flights from regional airports, to other (principally) European airports thus reducing the activity at these airports.The government plan(or intention) is to increase the connections from regional airports to the rest of the British Isles and mainland Europe - this is quite the opposite.The other result would be more passengers being channelled through Heathrow. This would provoke the need for greater capacity at LHR, not less. This is quite the opposite to the intended effect.

The other assumption is with regard to HS2 itself. Is it going to be built? Will the High Speed rail line be built through the airport, or next to it? Now there is talk of changing the route to go through LHR (instead of as a spur from the new main line as is the present proposal). Even if the spur or direct connection to HS2 are not built, will government decide to connect the newly electrified Great Western Main Line (GWML) to the airport? This latter option has already been taken on board with the proposed connection from Reading to Heathrow ("Government backs £500m Heathrow-South West rail link" -  Rail.co 13 July 2012) That means the government is already supporting the airport for the future.

With such an investment government will not then close Heathrow within 15-20 years, at least. The bigger question is if government coughs up the money for the HS2 connection, either as a spur or as a stop on the direct line. If the decision is positive then Heathrow´s future  -  and expansion (meaning Runway 3 and Terminal 6) - is assured. And that is what will happen.

16 October 2012

Heathrow closure: 1/2 - it should not happen.

Is it not shocking that nobody tells us the real plans about what is going to happen to Heathrow airport in the next 50 years?

I have to admit that the plans are not clear. If you read institutional and non-institutional websites, transport blogs, transport forums etc. you still come to two conclusions.
One: nobody knows what they are doing but still go along with their plans come what may.
Two: there is a hidden plan to expand Heathrow come what may orchestrated by government (or big interested parties) so that the politically unspeakable becomes reality.

Short-termism is the rule of the day. When any sort of expansion of airport capacity in the South East of England is mentioned, be it Heathrow, Gatwick or an Estuary airport, or whatever, then the politicians get nervous. Why? Votes.

If runways/airports could be built in three- five years (a la China)  then the politicians would have what it takes to put the necessary infrastructure into place. As it is at present they do not have the guts - meaning both the government and the legislators (election cycles being up to 5 years means that no politician wants to put his job/constituency on the line). It is so wishy-washy of politicians (whatever their colour) to negate development when that means re-election. The word "NO" does not solve any problems but only puts them off to another occasion (obviously when it would not affect the individual concerned) - how cowardly.

Both the Conservatives and Labour have switched from supporting a third runway at Heathrow to being opposed to it. At least the Liberal Democrats (though not offering any practicable solutions) have been consistent in opposing a third runway. That was their price for forming a coalition with the Conservatives so as to be able to form a workable government

The party political conference season has just finished. Each and everyone was saying what the faithful wanted to hear and so imprisoned themselves into straightjackets with policies which have no future.

The governing coalition partners now have this to say in their transport policies.

"The Liberal Democrats believe that the aviation industry shouldn’t get special treatment and must cut emissions just like the rest of the country. Air pollution is already terrible around Heathrow airport and expansion will only make matters worse.
We will reverse Labour plans to expand Heathrow Airport and oppose Boris Johnson's proposals for a new airport in the Thames Estuary. Unlike the Conservatives we oppose all airport expansion serving London and the South East and so would block expansion at Stansted and Gatwick as well."

"The Conservative Party states as its policy.....
......The Conservatives opposed the building of a third runway at Heathrow. This commitment was met in the Coalition agreement. Our position on a third runway at Heathrow has not changed.
Planned actions
• We will pass the Civil Aviation Bill into law. This will deliver much-needed reforms to our aviation regulation system.
• We will press ahead with the consultation process on our draft aviation policy framework.
• The independent commission into aviation capacity will publish an interim report in 2013, and its final report in 2015 on options to maintain our hub status. Any decision will be taken after the next general election."

The Labour party actually says nothing on its website. The only two mentions are those stated below (and even so you have to look hard for them) of which only the first has anything to do with air transport (though nothing relevant to what this article is about).

On 14th June 2012 the Labour Party published "a Policy Review document on Empowering Communities to Improve Transport." which is the only document of any weight to see the light of day this year. While it is long on generalities it has nothing of note about specifics.

It should be noted that with the Cabinet reshuffle in September 2012 the new Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP, replaced the former occupant, the Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, who is an opponent of any airport expansion. As is stated in the Conservative policy, he has set up an independent commission ...."tasked with identifying and recommending to Government options for maintaining this country’s status as an international hub for aviation."  It will present an interim report before the end of 2013 while the final report must be presented by the summer of 2015. As has been pointed out on every political forum as well as the DfT itself, this date is conveniently after when the next General Election must take place. That way the coalition should hold together. However, when the content of the interim report is known it could break up the coalition prematurely. This could well mean the election is brought forward to late winter or early spring 2014. We shall have to wait and see but it does illustrate how politics is dominated by vote seeking and not necessarily the national good.

Meanwhile the rest get on with doing things and trying to find solutions to the problems.

Another document, which has just been published (October 2012), is a report by
the Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment at MIT in collaboration with the Energy Efficient Cities Initiative at Cambridge University   
called "Air quality impacts of UK airport capacity expansion".

The most important point to note in this 5 page summary is that the number of deaths attributed to airport workings (not just aircraft) UKwide are 110(at Heathrow 50) annually.  This number is expected to increase(for a variety of reasons but without airports expansion) in 2030 to 250 in the UK (of which 110 will be attributed to Heathrow). With a third runway at Heathrow this figure is expected to grow from 110 to 150 annually. However, if a new hub were built in the Thames Estuary (with Heathrow being closed) the early deaths attributable to the (new) hub airport would be 50 annually.

The report goes on to make statements about the effects of air pollution which we are unable to see from the information written in the summary. As the summary stands I would question some statements made. To do that in any fair way we would have to read the full report as published in the UK-based scientific journal Atmospheric Environment. Despite obviously not having read anything other than the summary, many commentators have seen the document as the definitive "nail-in-the-coffin" for any expansion at Heathrow. However, things are not so clear.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, presented his Transport Strategy in June 2010. 
It states (point 5.22.5 page 242) in the section Reducing CO2 emissions from aviation
"Government has a target to reduce aviation COemissions to below 2005 levels by 2050."

This is significant and explains why so many documents are being produced concerning pollution. It is the Mayor´s legal obligation to ensure the reduction of the pollution levels.

At the instigation of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, the Institute of Occupational Medicine published a report in June 2010 called "Report on estimation of mortality impacts of particulate air pollution in London". Here it looked at all the issues of air pollution (not just aircraft) and estimated that 4267 premature deaths are caused by air pollution in Greater London annually(the figures therein mentioned refer to 2008).

This, however, is only one document in a series published by the Mayor´s office to protect human health. The EU has set ‘limit values’ for PM10 and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). PM10s are emitted mainly by cars, factories and domestic heating systems. In the Mayor´s Transport Strategy (previously cited) it mentions(page 104) that "since 1990 CO2 emissions from ground-based transport in London have remained largely constant" at about 22% of all air pollution. Of this fraction 14% is attributed to "ground-based aviation" (including landings and take-offs to 1000 meters) as seen in the graph on page 104. It should be pointed out that of that 22% fraction, 72% is attributed to road transport (cars, taxis, bus coaches, lorries and vans), and the other 14% to rail. The air pollution attributable to  ground-based aviation(up to 1000 meters) thus comes to 3.1% of the total.

The studies have not stopped and do not stop as these questions of air pollutants (particles and noise) are important and ways have to be found to remedy them. Such is the case that the London Assembly Health and Environment Committee is having hearings into "curbing airplane noise and emissions" (from 16th October 2012).

Not only government but also other institutions or agencies produce reports.
Stanford Engineering  "Do airplanes have to be so loud?"
Professor Lele says:  "They don´t. In fact, if you were to compare a jet engine today with one from 40 years ago, you´d find that it is about 100 times quieter for the same engine power." 

This is an interesting article which explains that not only engines but also airframes produce noise - something which is remediable.

Another source, The Register (quoting Science magazine) on 18th June 2009 published a report announcing the results of tests made by US engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney. It claimed its new engine "the PW1000G offers a 15 per cent saving on fuel, correspondingly less CO2, and a 50 per cent cut in NOx emissions." These are significant figures. The first "planes will come into service from 2013."
Thus we arrive at the basic question to be asked.

Are we to be limited in development of active resources because of the problems of today without looking at the developments of tomorrow? 
The engine manufacturers and the airframe constructors are already planning the next generation of aircraft after A380, B747-8, B787 and A350. Airbus already has plans for aircraft with steeper descents to the runways and steeper climbs from takeoff. Engines are about consumption(for the layman: miles per gallon), efficiency of use(mpg and toxic fumes produced) and noise(efficiency of the engine). It cannot now be disputed that there have been substantial improvements in such areas since the introduction of the B707, the VC10, the B747(first generation) the Trident, the BAC111, the Caravelle, the DC8 etc. etc. The noise pollution over Richmond and Twickenham now has no comparison to the same when these aircraft were first introduced. 45 years ago the noise was even unbearable while now it is a mild irritant at most. Obviously the closer to the airport the greater the irritant - that has been, is and  will still be a point of discussion for all time wherever an airport is situated. If it is not the aircraft then it is the traffic going to/from the airport, or the airport itself, and if you are really at a loss for complaint then the passengers themselves. 

What has not been said so far is that not all airplanes should necessarily be jets. When they are propeller driven then they make far less noise and produce far fewer fumes than jets. Their noise/fume footprint outside the airport boundary is practically non-existant. If any third runway at Heathrow were built it would provide the necessary accessibility to destinations in the British Isles of which many would gain access by propeller driven aircraft.

Consider that the opponents of airport expansion today are basing their criticisms on the negative aspects of air travel. They conveniently forget the improvements in engine efficiency and reduction in noise since the initial explosion in jet air travel. Are there not going to be similar improvements in the next 50 years (as have been in the previous 50)? How can they  reject even aircraft which will not bother them? Are they not, therefore, being Luddites in rejecting any development? 


The next blog explains how Heathrow will not be closed.

Consider also the blog published 23rd February 2012 "Heathrow´s 3rd runway - how to focus"

30 June 2012

Hasn´t Northolt shot its bolt?

Yet again we return to the question of more runway capacity at Heathrow. When the government coalition was formed a curt "no" was the only answer to the question of runway expansion at the London airports of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.

However, we are still waiting for the government policy paper on airport strategy which was originally due out in March 2012, but postponed to early summer and even now we do not have a publication date. This has led to all sorts of speculation, including a government U-turn on airport expansion. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has insisted, though, that there will be no third runway (R3) at Heathrow. This in its turn has provoked all sorts of speculation and ideas have been floated (by whom??) about alternatives while keeping within the letter of the agreement keeping the lid on airport expansion. 

It appears that by using the assets already in place then a much needed  increase in runway capacity can be achieved. This is where Northolt comes into the equation. At present it is an RAF base in the northwest of London. Rumours have been spread that the RAF is going to close it so it will become available for other uses. Unfortunately, despite delving into all sorts of files, websites, news sources and even the Ministry of Defence itself, absolutely nothing has been found about any possible closure of Northolt as an RAF base.That in itself should be enough to quash any rumours. However, we know very well that governments can change political positions from one week to the next, and even occasionally make quick radical decisions. So let us work on the assumption that the closure of Northolt, as an RAF base, is possible.

Particular Data: At present this base is used mostly for Royal, governmental and other VIP and Defence personnel transport with various HS125s and BAe 146s among other aircraft. It also houses RAF training and Air Cadet units as well as some Army and Royal Navy units. Recently it had based there some Typhoon fast jets taking part in exercises to protect the Olympic Games. At first glance then it seems that this base at Ruislip near Central London has very real uses for the RAF which they would be reluctant to give up.

The two runways are aligned north west - south east (1.4 kms.long) and south west - north east (1.6 kms. long). This latter one cannot be extended to the SW as it runs into the A40 bordering the airfield, nor to the NE more than about 200 meters as it runs into housing and the National Rail and London Underground lines. This latter runway is 07/25. The other NW-SE runway is closed and not in use. It could, however, be reopened and extended to about 2.1 kms. across a green field. This is indicated in the photo of the map hereshown.                                                                             

This is a satellite view of the RAF base at Northolt, indicating the two runways with the SE-NW one extended.

The distance between Heathrow and Northolt is 9.2kms. as the crow flies, so by road it is more but all depends on the route taken and to which terminal one is going.

As you can see there is a problem with runway alignment. This is not so great a problem when the only aircraft flying into/out of the base are small jets and propeller driven aircraft. However, It is certainly a problem for air traffic control with any aircraft of a larger size - these need larger turning circles as well as longer runways. That means a conflict arises which is potentially dangerous.

PublicTransport routes: There is just one bus route which passes the airfield (down West End Rd.) which is the E7 from Ruislip to Ealing Broadway. The next nearest, 114 Ruislip-Mill Hill Broadway, is on the other side of South Ruislip station (along Victoria Road).The nearest station is South Ruislip which is both LUL (Central line West Ruislip branch) and National Rail with Chiltern Railways (Marylebone - High Wycombe) services.None of these goes near Heathrow and so involve at least one change to get there.

Roads: Probably the simplest way to communicate to Heathrow would be to take the A40, which directly bypasses Northolt airfield, westwards to where the M40 begins and then turn south on to the M25 (slots permitting!!). T5 is easily accessible, T4 is relatively easily accessible from the M25, while the central area terminals 2 and 3 need a more roundabout route. 
To gain easy access to the central area from Northolt it would probably mean taking the A4180 then the A312 southwards to the M4 or later the A4 (Bath Road) turning westwards in either case to join the Tunnel Entrance Road to the Heathrow Central Area.
All these options of course mean extra traffic on already excessively crowded roads (hence the slots comment). It means cars, taxis and connecting buses all of which are noisy, polluting and congestion causing. Far from being an attractive option.

It has been suggested that a fast tube link be constructed between Northolt and Heathrow. If it were a tube then presumably it would go underground so as not to disturb the housing (and their residents) in the area. This a very expensive option just to connect a minor airport with small aircraft using it to the main hub airport. Would it be cost effective? On the other hand, if the connection were overground then you would have to choose a route and subsequently decide which housing and businesses would be affected. Also very costly but both economically and politically.

What has not been mentioned are the start and finishing points of such a connection, and even how many stops it should have. Would it start at Northolt terminal or further north - e.g. South Ruislip station to link with the LUL and Chiltern Lines - or even elsewhere? Where would the line end - via T5 and on to Staines, or via T4 and on to Feltham? In either case one terminal would lose out thus reducing the benefit of the connection.

Autonomy: Northolt cannot be looked at as anything other than another minor airport in London. Its operation would, by necessity, be independent from Heathrow. To provide all the auxiliary services that aircraft and passengers need you would have to duplicate them at Northolt - a ridiculous expense. Cleaning, minor maintenance, fueling, food and drink, trolley extras (duty free goods etc.), baggage handling and so on all mean added expense. If they were provided by Heathrow then how much would the roads get clogged up by the extra traffic? For aircraft to be maintained they would have to fly into Heathrow eating up precious slots. It is unimaginable how much the resulting chaos would be, especially in adverse weather conditions.

Who would fly there?: No airline would go to Northolt voluntarily. Even if the government decided to force airlines (and this means BA and Aer Lingus) that fly the British Isles routes then it would be most detrimental to those airlines. If other European airlines were involved then the government would have a diplomatic incident on its hands. Whether one or the other you cannot discriminate in such cases - the resulting case in the European Court brought against the government by the airlines  would be won easily by them and would need a total climbdown by the government, meaning the death knell of Northolt as an airport. This point in itself destroys the case for Northolt.

Runway Three: A third runway (R3) at Heathrow between the M4 and the A4(Bath Road), where originally proposed, would suffer none of the problems encountered by Northolt.
1-It would be built parallel to the present runways, and used in "mixed-mode" so would not cause problems to air traffic control.
2-It could be built as a full length runway to be available IN EMERGENCY/EXCEPTIONAL CASES ONLY while its normal use would be for small and medium jets together with propeller driven aircraft.
3-A new terminal 6 (T6) would be built to serve R3 but the operation would be so designed that airlines/aircraft would always (or at worst almost always) fly into/out of R3 and T6. That way there would be no need at all for planes to cross the other runways, except in exceptional circumstances. 
4-Some housing would have to be demolished but a lot of the housing, hotels, car parks and sundries could be maintained.
5-Taxiways(3 or at most 4) would need to be built to connect to the main airfield and the northern runway.
6-Road works would be needed for the A4 to pass under the taxiways and there might be some other minor works.
7-No tube or rail lines need be built as the existing Heathrow Express/Crossrail line already passes under or near where T6 will be constructed meaning only a new station would be necessary.
8-All auxiliary/maintenance services are on site or on hand.
9-The links to the other terminals would exist from T6 with the opening of the new HE/Crossrail station.
10-Therefore, the case for airlines to object for a transfer of some routes to T6 would not exist. 
11-No (or at worst very little) extra road traffic would be needed - quite the opposite of the case at Northolt where the increase would be substantial.
12-The progressive limitations on noise and engine pollution would be as stated on previous blogs and extended to other airports eventually. 

Northolt is not an option to serve Heathrow at all. R3 and T6 are the best options to relieve some of the congestion at Heathrow. The real solution is to use the assets this country has and let the other airports expand. You cannot deny necessary infrastructure today with arguments when you can insist on their solution for tomorrow.
A  2 or 3 hub solution certainly has merits. Does not the Greater New York area work with LaGuardia, Newark and JFK as major airports?
The mega hub airport idea is just a fad. So many passengers complain at the sizes of Paris CDG and Frankfurt. Let us not try to go down the same road. We have to build on our advantages  and not follow everybody else like sheep. We have five airports (and that is only serving the London area) and must capitalise on those assets. It is so easy to spend other people´s money on big white elephants - no thank you. 

This blogger has written about the subject of a new runway at Heathrow airport several times already. The last one was 23 February 2012 under the title...
"Heathrow´s 3rd runway - how to focus"