News Archive

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LATVIA: Riga International Airport has approved its Business Strategy 2036 and Business Plan 2020, envisioning investments in terminal expansion, new baggage sorting facility, new car parks and the connection from the terminal to a new railway station of the future Rail Baltica line.

The airport estimates its annual passenger traffic to reach 7 million over the coming 20 years.

“The growth of the airport in the long term is achievable if we focus on service quality excellence and support a vast, sustainable and reliable air traffic network,” said Andris Liepiņš, Chairman of the Board of Riga International Airport.

Riga 3 RIX

Construction of the Rail Baltica high speed rail project, which has been allocated EUR 238 million worth of EU funding, is estimated to start in Latvia in 2017 with the reconstruction of the Riga Central Rail Station and the Riga Bus Terminal, which will be followed by the construction of tracks to Riga International Airport and a rail station at the airport.

Rail Baltica is a new European standard 1435 mm gauge railway in the Baltic States connecting Tallinn – Riga – Kaunas – Vilnius – Warsaw – Berlin and is expected to start operating in 2025.

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The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) has released the Transportation Investment Business Plan (TIBP) – a community-informed document whose key takeaway is that tourism and resident growth will overwhelm the existing capacity of Las Vegas’ transportation infrastructure and greatly affect the future economic health of southern Nevada, if significant and coordinated action is not taken.

The Plan focused on capacity issues in what’s referred to as the “Core Area” – considered to be the economic engine of the urban Valley and the state of Nevada, encompassing McCarran International Airport, the Resort Corridor, Downtown Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Convention Center, the University of Nevada Las Vegas campus, the Las Vegas Medical District along Charleston Boulevard, and Cashman Center.

 

A record 41.1 million people visited Las Vegas in 2014 and over 300,000 visitors routinely occupy the Strip on weekends. Of these visitors, six in 10 rely on ground transportation – usually personal vehicles – resulting in over 23 million annual visits via roadways, primarily the I-15 and U.S. Highway 95. At the same time, McCarran International Airport has become the second busiest origin and destination (O&D) airport in the nation and is geared to welcome as many as 55 million passengers in the future.

The TIBP recommends regional improvements and investments that will create an efficient, high-quality transportation experience to enhance mobility and connectivity.

The recommendations are separated into distinct categories including high-capacity transit, roadways/surface-streets, freeway and pedestrian improvements, and immediate policy action.

Most notably:

  • Development of a Core Area light rail transit system to provide a seamless, high-capacity transit link between McCarran International Airport, the Resort Corridor and Downtown Las Vegas. According to the Plan light rail would be the best technology to handle future transit demand along this corridor, as it has the flexibility to be implemented below ground, at street-level, on an elevated guideway, or any combination thereof. It can also be expanded to serve other parts of the metropolitan area.
  • Public policy and program changes, including the creation of a Resort Corridor Mobility Association to facilitate collaboration between public and private sector stakeholders to anticipate demand and coordinate transportation resources during busy weekends and major events.
  • Creation of a new multi-modal transportation center at McCarran International Airport, providing travellers with convenient access to a variety of mobility choices, including taxi, rideshare, shuttle, bus, and light rail in one location.
  • Surface street and roadway projects range from improvements to taxi/limousine/ridesharing service access at McCarran International Airport to roadway widening, to elevated express lanes on key corridors.
  • Expansion of the Las Vegas Monorail via the construction of a new station to serve the Sands Expo and Convention Center and an extension south to the Mandalay Bay’s Convention Center, as well as a connection to a future high-speed passenger rail station.

The recommended projects carry an estimated total cost of $7 to $12 billion, adjusted for inflation. While the cost of light rail design and preliminary development is part of the overall project cost estimate, construction, operation and maintenance costs are not included. Light rail has attributes that are distinct from other transportation projects and will seek public-private partnerships with investors as a means of shifting the economic burden from taxpayers.

The projects are expected to generate $56 – $178 billion in cumulative economic impact and to create as many as 122,000 jobs. Funding for the projects will come from federal, state and local sources along with alternative forms of financing.

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UK: A scheme to build a tram-train link is one of two options being put forward for a new connection between Glasgow city centre, Paisley and Glasgow Airport as the flagship project in the £1.13bn Glasgow and Clyde Valley City Deal.

Tram-train carriages would operate on the heavy rail network between Glasgow Central Station and Paisley Gilmour Street before moving on to new tram rails running between Paisley and the front of the airport terminal building. This would offer a 16.5-minute direct journey between the city centre and the front door of the airport.

A light rail personal rapid transit system is also being considered. In this scheme, passengers would travel by standard train to Paisley before disembarking and changing onto a new light-rail system to complete their journey to the airport.

Glasgow tram train web

Studies have shown that tram-train would be the best performing option, offering the best value for money, due to its greater attraction for users. This would result in more people using the service and better journey times for people travelling to and from the airport. It would come in at less than half the cost of a new heavy rail solution, which would cost an estimated £317m and is being ruled out as being too expensive.

The tram-train and personal rapid transit schemes are contained in a strategic business case which has been developed jointly by Renfrewshire Council and Glasgow City Council. It will be put before councillors in both authorities before going to the Glasgow and Clyde Valley Cabinet for approval.

If approved, further work would be done to develop more detail on both of these options before a final, preferred choice is made next year.

Councillor Mark Macmillan, Leader of Renfrewshire Council, said: "This new connection will contribute a great deal to the success of the City Region; supporting the airport's continuing success and generating jobs throughout the area.

"City Deal has also committed £51million to the Glasgow Airport Investment Area where further infrastructure developments will create a business location offering unparalleled air, sea and land connectivity.

"The airport and Renfrewshire will be fully integrated into the Region's transport network and play a pivotal role in its thriving economic future."

Councillor Frank McAveety, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: "Glasgow and the Clyde Valley is the economic powerhouse of Scotland and Glasgow Airport plays a crucial role in the continued growth of the region.

"We've long argued that a new rail link between the airport and the city centre is essential for the thousands of tourists and business travellers who fly into and out of Glasgow every day.

"The airport already supports thousands of jobs but this new rail link, which is the single biggest element of our City Deal, will be the catalyst that takes us to a new level, vastly improving the customer experience and generating even more jobs and inward investment."

Amanda McMillan, managing director of Glasgow Airport said: "This flagship project presents an exciting opportunity to deliver real benefits to the city region and beyond. We welcome all the positive steps that are being taken to progress this important project and will continue to work closely with colleagues at Renfrewshire Council, Glasgow City Council, Transport

Scotland and Network Rail through to successful delivery and operation.

"Improving transport links to Glasgow Airport is a top priority for us, particularly at a time when we are enjoying sustained passenger growth. Over the past 12 months alone we have welcomed an additional one million passengers through our doors, so it is important that improved transport links can be achieved as soon as possible."

The estimated cost of a tram-train link is £144.3m, which includes construction, rolling stock, inflation, contingency and land purchase. Construction could start in 2021 and it could be operational by 2025.

The personal rapid transit option would cost £102m and would involve a mix of the existing heavy rail network and a new light railway connecting from heavy rail at Paisley to the airport utilising a bespoke system similar to that used at other airports.

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by Liam Henderson, Transporting Cities

EVENTS: This year’s UK AirRail 2015 conference took place in London, giving the attendees an overview of current airport policy environment and recent developments at a selection of national airports. Many of these enhancements were presented in the context, and response to, a lack of a national aviation and surface access strategy and the move towards regional and local devolution.

This review begins with the keynote speech by Lousie Ellman MP, Chair of Transport Select Committee, before introducing other speakers where relevant to the topic under discussion. It then moves on to detail the stand-alone presentations given by various airport owners and rail operators – acknowledging that presentations by easyJet, SNC-Lavalin and GhostData have not been included.

Policy

The overriding themes for the day were set out early by Lousie Ellman MP who reported on evidence heard by the committee on the subject of airport surface access. A report on the topic will be issued in due course; however, Ellman was able to cover some of the high level influences. First amongst these is the awareness that the debate about a possible new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick had dominated the aviation landscape, thereby sidelining the whole topic of regional airports and their relative access. It was Ellman’s desire that the upcoming announcement on the new runway would mean that there was an opportunity to have a real debate about the part that regional airports could provide to accommodate future growth.

Ellman went on to introduce the conference to the two main issues that came out of the evidence received:

  • The lack of a national policy or strategy on surface access
  • The impact of devolution

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USA: Denver International Airport (DEN) celebrated the opening of the Westin Denver International Airport hotel and conference center and its adjoining open-air plaza, which sit upon the airport’s new transit center that is set to open in April 2016.

denver airport hotel

Together, these projects make up the DEN Hotel and Transit Center. The hotel and conference center offers 519 guest rooms and 35 suites. Offering airport-to-hotel convenience that is unparalleled in the United States, the conference center includes two ballrooms and 15 additional meeting rooms and boardrooms of varying sizes. The largest ballroom can accommodate up to 750 people.

The meeting space’s most dramatic feature is a massive prefunction area showcasing a panoramic, three-story, floor-to-ceiling glass wall overlooking the airport rail station.

westin1

DEN’s location in nearly the center of the United States – just a two-hour flight from the West Coast and three hours from the East Coast. Denver also boasts the third-largest domestic network of any major U.S. airport.

Airport and Westin guests will be connected to Denver’s vibrant downtown via the Regional Transportation District’s (RTD) new University of Colorado A Line – scheduled to begin service on 22 April 2016 – that will take passengers from DEN to Denver Union Station in about 37 minutes.

“Today, we open an entirely new chapter in our international airport’s history,” said Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “With this stunning new hotel, conference center and open-air plaza, we are elevating Denver and the Rocky Mountain region to new heights. The hotel and commuter line set to open in April are the first steps toward leveraging DIA as an economic powerhouse that will create tens of thousands of new jobs and bring more business opportunity to Metro Denver.”

westin2

Designed by global architect, Gensler, and built by MHS, a tri-venture comprised of contractors Mortenson, Hunt and Saunders, the towering LEED certified building honors flight and aviation, symbolizing wings of a bird in flight hovering above the plaza and the iconic tents of the Jeppesen Terminal.

“Today’s opening of the Westin Denver International Airport marks the achievement of a major milestone towards our goal of solidifying DEN’s place on the world map, expanding economic growth in our region and elevating the overall travel experience in and through the Mile High City,” said airport CEO Kim Day. “This state-of-the-art addition will further the transformation of Denver’s airport into a destination in itself, with easy connectivity to all that Denver and the Rocky Mountain region have to offer.”

The expansive public art program at DEN and at the new Hotel and Transit Center will make traveling to Denver a topnotch artistic experience as well. The large-scale public art at the Hotel and Transit Center is focused on the three main public areas, starting at the train arrival area, at the escalator that ascends from the train hall to the plaza, and the plaza itself. All of

DEN’s public art, including art within the hotel, are by Colorado artists and reflect the region, enhancing a sense of place at the airport.