Seven members of LFIG`s Transport Group, including LFIG chair David Offenbach and communications officer James Gill, recently had the pleasure of touring the new Heathrow Terminal 2 (or “The Queen’s Terminal”) which is due to be completed by the end of November 2013.
This £2.5 billion project has been in progress since the summer of 2010, and the overall project is officially due to open on 4 June 2014. It is essentially designed to put the individual traveller at the centre and has very much sustainability as its guiding principle.
Donning hardhats, boots and safety gloves the party were taken through the whole terminal as if they were arriving passengers and then as departing passengers. All members of the group found the new building hugely impressive, with many large open spaces stylishly designed making maximum use of natural light. It seems the architects designed this structure to allow more natural light and space than is the norm for airport buildings.
All the main concourses were airy with undulating ceilings to muffle noise. The passenger was very much at the centre of their planning of the Terminal. The layout made it very easy for each passenger to identify the path they have to take through the Terminal building and minimized the likelihood of queues and congestion.
This project is entirely funded by the private sector, but we discovered this was only the start. The next stage was to pull down terminal 1, replacing it with a major extension of the new terminal 2 which would enable better operation (throughput) of planes so as to reach a level of operational efficiency currently experienced at Terminal five.
Some major airlines will be operating from this new connectivity hub, including Virgin Atlantic Little Red, with frequent domestic daily flights to Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Manchester, and Air Lingus which will look to reach over 100 worldwide destinations. There is also Star Alliance which is a group of 27 airlines under one umbrella, which will offer over 21,000 flights daily to over 1,300 destinations.
This looks like it will be a key building block in the critical Heathrow hub, helping to deepen and broaden the much needed connectivity considered so crucial a component of economic growth and prosperity in the future, especially when other airports are competing to be among the preferred West European hubs.
We would like to thank the development team at Terminal 2 and Portland Communications, who organized the tour.
Later in the day many of those who had taken the tour attended the meeting of the transport group in Portcullis House. We were delighted that Mary Creagh MP, the newly appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, came to the first part of the meeting to introduce herself.
The meeting had been convened to consider which transport policies should be given priority in the next Labour manifesto.
Number 4 in the list was building a third runway at Heathrow airport. Incidentally, the LFIG transport group had debated this in detail at their meeting some 18 months ago and it was very clear then that it was imperative for the UK economy to expand Heathrow’s capacity as soon as possible.
Not surprisingly on our tour of T2 we were lobbied strongly on this issue. We were told that currently Heathrow operates at virtually full capacity. But with an extra runway you could increase capacity by between 40 and 50%. So let’s go!
Mike Parker is Chairman of the LFIG Transport Policy Group