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Stansted Airport boss puts train services at heart of passenger boom

A fast and frequent train service from Stansted Airport to London is the key to attracting new airline investment.

That was the message from the airport’s managing director Gareth Powell as he opened this year’s annual Stansted Area Transport Forum.

His headline message was that the return of the full Stansted Express service in December will provide a timely boost to ensure Stansted maintains its status as the fastest-recovering major UK airport.

Gareth Powell at Stansted Airport's transport forum
Gareth Powell at Stansted Airport's transport forum

Following reintroduction of a four-trains-an-hour service during peak hours in May, Greater Anglia will resume the full pre-pandemic service of a train every 15 minutes on Sunday December 10, in response to the continuing increase in air passenger numbers.

The airport has already seen an uptick in public transport use over the last year as it heads back to its industry-leading position of over 50% of passengers accessing Stansted by train or coach.

Mr Powell said: “During my speech last year, I was keen to strike a note of optimism in the aftermath of Covid – to point towards Stansted’s recovery from the pandemic, our growing passenger numbers, our role in supporting a bright future for the regional economy and steadfast commitment to decarbonising aviation.

Stansted Express train. Credit: Greater Anglia.
Stansted Express train. Credit: Greater Anglia.

“I’m delighted to say we’ve maintained our status as the fastest-recovering major airport in the UK – the first, this summer, to surpass our 2019 passenger volumes in July, August, September and then into October. In fact, not only are we the fastest-recovering major airport in the UK, but we’re recovering faster than many other major European hubs too.

“I also made a point of stressing the importance of high-quality surface access to Stansted, including restoring four trains per hour on the Stansted Express. The better connected this airport is, the greater its potential to serve as an engine of growth and international gateway for the region.

“So, I’m delighted that, in collaboration with our colleagues at Greater Anglia and thanks to the support of many of you in the room, we’ve managed to secure a commitment from DfT [Department for Transport] to restore a full four-trains per-hour timetable on the Stansted Express from early December.

“I’m utterly committed to us preserving our status as the major airport with the highest public transport mode share, and I’d remind everyone that the more Stansted can improve its rail connectivity into the capital, the more we can compete with the other London airports to attract investment from the airlines. This will help us expand our route network, make the region better connected internationally and ultimately produce an economic dividend.

Stansted Express
Stansted Express

“In a further boost to our ambitions, we recently received planning permission to extend our terminal building. This truly will transform the experience for passengers at every point of their airport journey as we enter the next phase in our growth as an airport, which this terminal extension will help unlock.

“I’m proud of the resilient and reliable operation we have here at Stansted and know that our onsite partners play a huge role in that.

“The Transport Forum anchors us in dialogue with one another, in a partnership approach to coming up with solutions, and I’m optimistic about the potential for greater integration on campus in years to come.”

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