Members' News

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From left – Nick Barton, CEO of Birmingham Airport, Allan Cook, Chair of HS2 and Tim Clarke, Chair of Birmingham Airport.

UK: the Chairs of both Birmingham Airport and HS2 Ltd, as well as the CEO of Birmingham Airport, met to reaffirm how the new High Speed Rail network alongside the airport’s growth plans are crucial to improve future connectivity and prosperity for the region.  

HS2 will link over 25 towns and cities, joining up nearly half of the UK population and is set to deliver £92bn of benefits to the UK economy. Not only will HS2 better serve the airport from across the country, the new railway will take trains off the busy West Coast Main Line allowing more regional train services to and from Birmingham International Station.

Tim Clarke, Chair of Birmingham Airport and Allan Cook, Chair of HS2 Ltd, along with Nick Barton, CEO of Birmingham Airport, met at the airport to discuss their infrastructure plans and visited the airport site to understand where the airport developments will take place. This meeting is a clear sign of commitment from the two parties to see both projects delivered in unity for the benefit of the overall region.

Allan Cook, Chair of HS2 Ltd said:
“HS2 is a once in a generation opportunity to better connect the Midlands and the North. Calling at the new Interchange station, our trains will be more reliable, quicker and allow more passengers to use Birmingham Airport, the NEC and other leisure attractions. The new HS2 station will act as a catalyst for the development and growth proposals for the area around the station – including new homes and jobs. We plan to work closely with the Airport and the Urban Growth Company to deliver improved connectivity that will in turn drive economic growth for both the West Midlands and the country.”

Tim Clarke, Chair of Birmingham Airport, said:
“From next month, the airport will begin works on its Master Plan, where £500m will be invested over the next 15 years to grow the airport by 40%, serving 18m passengers a year – using the existing single runway. For us, it is important the airport continues to play a part in the development of the Midlands, acting as a catalyst for the continued growth of the region’s economy. With a greater choice of flights and destinations, alongside improved regional connectivity and a direct link to HS2, we will do just this.”

When HS2 opens, the rail journey between Birmingham Airport and central London will reduce from the current 70 minutes to 38 minutes as it becomes the UK’s first and only high-speed connected airport, whilst also increasing the current two-hour catchment of 35m to 45m people.

Interchange station will be a new major gateway station for the region, part of a new public transport interchange serving Solihull, the West Midlands, Birmingham Airport and the National Exhibition Centre. The station will be immediately adjacent to Birmingham Airport, allowing it to take an increasingly national role, helping to drive international trade, investment, employment, inbound tourism and the success of the region’s many universities.

Phase One of HS2, between the West Midlands and London is scheduled to be completed by 2026, with plans to extend to Crewe by 2027 and to Leeds and Manchester by 2033. Works on the first phase of HS2 are already well underway at over 250 work locations.

Around 9,000 jobs are now supported by the delivery of HS2, with 300 apprentices on board and 2,000 businesses supporting the new backbone of Britain’s rail network. When construction peaks, it is estimated that HS2 will need over 30,000 people to design and build the full HS2 rail network when it is built in the North.

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UK: Heathrow has announced it is getting ready to introduce a set of tough new measures to protect local air quality, reduce congestion and tackle emissions.  

Heathrow is putting plans in motion to introduce charges for passenger cars and all private hire vehicles. This includes the world’s first airport Ultra Low Emission Zone (the Heathrow ULEZ), set to be introduced in 2022. The Heathrow ULEZ will introduce minimum vehicle emissions standards identical to the London Mayor’s ULEZ for passenger cars and private hire vehicles entering car parks or drop-off areas at any of Heathrow’s terminals, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Over time with the opening of the new runway from 2026 and improvements to public transport access to the airport, the Heathrow ULEZ will transition into a vehicle access charge (VAC) on all passenger cars, taxis and private hire vehicles coming to car parks or drop-off areas. The goal is to tackle the main source of local air pollution – road vehicles – and reduce congestion by encouraging more people to use sustainable ways of getting to and from the airport.

Initial proposals for the Heathrow ULEZ could set the charge figure between £10-15, in line with charges set by the Mayor in central London. Exact details for the Heathrow ULEZ will be confirmed when Heathrow submits its final DCO application for expansion after public consultation. Revenue generated from both schemes will help fund initiatives to improve sustainable transport, contribute to community compensation and help keep airport charges affordable as the airport expands.

The announcement comes at a time when action is needed to protect local air quality by changing industry and public behaviour. Heathrow will now join London and Birmingham as the third UK zone to impose charges on the most polluting cars.

Furthermore, Heathrow is doing its bit to reduce vehicle use by leading industry change through a targeted Colleague Strategy which will be launched next week and will focus on significantly reducing the number of colleague car trips through a mixture of incentives, restraints on parking, and investment in new public transport links. The airport has invested over £1billion in rail infrastructure and provides over £2.5million annually to encourage public transport use via the airport free travel zone, support for bus services and contributions to local sustainable transport schemes.

Heathrow is fully backing plans to treble rail capacity by 2040 through improved transport links which take into account the introduction of the Elizabeth Line, an upgraded Piccadilly Line, and proposed rail links from the West and South. 

Earlier this month Heathrow also published its annual sustainability strategy report – Heathrow 2.0 – which sets out how the airport is addressing the impact of aircraft and other operations. Highlighted in the report are significant investments made to offset emissions and speed up electric flight, supporting the airport’s goal to become carbon neutral by 2020 and to operate zero carbon airport infrastructure by 2050. Initiatives include a project to restore UK peatlands to offset carbon emissions, more electric vehicles and charging points, investment in the development of sustainable fuels, a pledge to waive a year’s landing charges for the first electric or hybrid aircraft put into regular service at Heathrow, along with research into future infrastructure to support electric aircraft and technologies. 

“Heathrow Expansion is not a choice between the economy and the environment – we must deliver for both. Today’s announcement shows that we will take the tough decisions to ensure that the airport grows responsibly,” Heathrow Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye said.

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HEX flower train

UK: Customers boarding Heathrow Express services were greeted with a stunning flower display this week.

More than 3,000 flowers in total were installed on the 43 seat, 23-metre long carriage to celebrate the 2019 RHS Chelsea Flower Show which began on 21 May.

A spokesperson for Heathrow Express said: “The duration of our transfer service is just 15 minutes so we wanted to make an instant impression on customers departing from and arriving in the UK. The Chelsea Flower Show is one of the biggest events of the year but not everyone gets the chance to experience it so we wanted to give travellers a little taster. And we’re delighted to say the reaction of customers has been blooming marvellous.”

The ‘flower express’ display, which was created by Jamie Aston Flowers, featured 1,850 hydrangeas, 220 wisterias and 1,000 stems of fresh sea lavender. The mix of real and artificial flowers were attached to the ceiling and walls using suction grips and hooks and the plants in the luggage racks were held in place by foam.

Jamie Aston said: “We’ve created all manner of flower displays but have never had the chance to create one on board a train. We wanted to create something which would bring a smile to passengers’ faces and help them to unwind ahead or following their flight.”

 

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Gatwick Express Birthday

UK: The Gatwick Express has celebrated its 35 year of operations anniversary on 14 May 2019. Gatwick Express came into full service on 14 May 1984, transporting passengers from London Victoria to Gatwick Airport. The service was initially formed of Class 73 trains with specially modified coaches to carry passenger luggage.

Since the launch, Gatwick Express has evolved; in 2007 the service was extended to and from Brighton, became part of the UK’s biggest rail franchise, Govia Thameslink Railway, in 2015, and saw a £145m fleet renewal programme in 2016.

On its birthday, Gatwick Express team were surprising passengers passing through London Victoria station with limited edition organic tote bags and a string quartet serenading arrivals. A magician was also be on board a number of Gatwick Express services throughout the day, entertaining passengers with some close-up magic.

“The 35-year anniversary of operations is such an exciting occasion to be part of. It makes it even more special to be celebrating this event with the team," said Stephen MacCallaugh, Head of Gatwick Express.

 

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MALAYSIA: KLIA Ekspres tickets are now available globally through Express Rail Link Sdn Bhd (ERL)’s partnership with GlobalTix, a Singapore based e-ticketing and Business-to-Business (B2B) marketing platform.

Chief Executive Officer of ERL, Noormah Mohd Noor said, “This is our second partnership with a B2B company in just three months. It is significant for us as KLIA Ekspres tickets are now made available through GlobalTix’s network of over 4,000 partners, travel agents and distributors. This, in turn, will provide more purchase options for travellers planning their Malaysian adventure. We are definitely excited to welcome more travellers onboard the KLIA Ekspres, the fastest train in Southeast Asia.”

Launched in 2013, GlobalTix is a Singapore-based company that is run by passionate team members who believe that travelling should be as easy as possible. It is a B2B platform with a specific focus on digitalising tickets for tourist attractions.

Speaking on behalf of GlobalTix, Vice President of Global Commercial, Chanel Leong said “We are delighted to be working with KLIA Ekspres, one of the most prominent companies in Malaysia, allowing us to touch base with a company that knows and provides the best for its audience. We are excited to see where this venture will go to and we are confident this will allow both our companies to grow even further.”