So plans are being formulated to reduce air pollution by forcing motor vehicles off the roads - just to allow for an increase in aircraft movements without exceeding stringent local air pollution regulations???
This appalling proposal should make any red-blooded human's blood boil with fury - hence the "blood red" background colour.
Is it that the politicians and civil service decision makers have totally lost all sense of sanity??? - or do they suffer from £myopia£ or £selective vision£ and can only £see£ so called £solutions£ in ideas which involve extracting money from people's wallets???
The scheemers behind these proposals seem to forget that if faced with unpleasant / inadequate / overpriced facilities to reach Heathrow (British) air passengers might find it to be very tempting to switch to other airports - even for global flights eg: the USA via Stansted and Amsterdam. Both Schipol and Paris (CDG) would very much like to become the pre-eminent airports for this part of the globe, a crown which (at present) is held by Heathrow.
And what about the effect on the local communities - whose people are to be financially penalised for wanting to use their cars just so that there can be more air traffic???
Yes, there seems to be an insatiable demand for more air traffic at Heathrow Airport but more could be done to maximise effectiveness of available facilities. Experience with the Eurostar rail service between London and Paris has shown a way to reduce short distance flights from airports, thereby freeing up space for more longer distance flights for journeys which cannot be made by any other means. Building the proposed (February 2005) London - Birmingham - Liverpool - Manchester - West Yorkshire (Leeds) - Teeside - Tyneside (Newcastle-Upon-Tyne) - Edinburgh - Glasgow 300mph+ Transrapid Maglev could provide the optimum way to reduce the number of flights within Britain, especially if it also connected with airports - and not just cities.
Maybe a better way to reduce the number of cars heading to the airport would be to improve the (local) public transports so that they become "viable alternatives" to driving??
As much as possible this public transport should use "off road" fixed infrastructures as buses using the public highway are too easily caught in traffic to be seen as a realistic option. Trains, trams, kerb guided trolleybuses, monorails, etc. could all meet this requirement.
Proper, 24/7, direct links with towns to the west (eg: Slough) would also encourage both travellers and airport employees from these areas to use public transport.
Since the "stated aim" is to reduce air pollution then it stands to reason that all diesel buses in the given area should also be electrified. After all, diesel fuel exhaust is a very significant source of the very pollutants (NoX, PM10, etc.,) which this toll plan was hatched to reduce. Converting the buses to sustainably powered electric trolleybuses would reduce local air pollution - without disbenefiting anyone!
Furthermore, except perhaps for passengers travelling from central"ish" London (is Paddington really "central" London?) or the selected suburban areas fortunate enough to be served by the Heathrow Connect service or the Piccadilly Line underground railway, public transport links from London to Heathrow could be *much* better.
A Stansted Airport / Barking - Stratford - North London Line - Willesden - Heathrow rail service could be started "right now". Virtually the entire route is already electrified (on the overhead wire system). Linking the mainline railway tunnels which serve Heathrow into the third rail Southern Electric network would significantly improve public transport access from south London - helping to reduce overall road traffic levels and consequential air pollution. None of this is rocket science - all it needs are decision makers / (political) leaders who are more interested in adding value to peoples' lives than just emptying their wallets.
It would also help if Heathrow Airport was served by InterCity high speed trains from the national network (perhaps with "all inclusive" railair fares). At present mainline trains from South Wales and South West England zoom past Heathrow at 125mph. As they are diesels they cannot serve the subterranean airport station - but some of them they could stop - for instance at West Drayton (which is near the airport) or Ealing Broadway (which is already a regional transport hub) - and connect into the electric Heathrow Connect services. Incidentally, both the French and the Dutch airports mentioned above are already connected to their respective national InterCity railway networks.
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