9th November 2006

Stansted passengers take to the roads as rail use tumbles

Half a million fewer airport passengers used the train to get to and from Stansted Airport last year compared to 2004 according to the latest statistics from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) published today (9 November).

The CAA report shows that a total of just 4.8 million airport passengers used the train to access Stansted Airport in 2005 compared to 5.3 million in 2004, despite an overall 5 percent increase in the number of passengers using the airport.

At the same time, the number of Stansted’s passengers who arrived at or departed from the airport by road increased by 700,000 to 11.7 million – a 6 percent increase. Almost three quarters of Stansted passengers (74.6%) now use the roads to access the airport and only a quarter (25.0%) use the rail service, down from 28.8% in 2004.

BAA’s increasing reliance upon road rather than rail travel at Stansted is directly contradictory to the Government’s policy which calls for a “radical change in transport policy” based on reduced dependence on the car and greater emphasis on public transport. Government policy makes clear that airport operators, such as BAA, are expected to play a full part in achieving this. At Stansted however, the proportion of passengers travelling by rail has been declining over the past five years.

Commenting on the latest CAA figures, SSE Chairman, Peter Sanders said: “Local people need very little reminding about the growth in road congestion or of the overcrowding on many of our train services to London arising from the rapid expansion of the airport in recent years. BAA has consistently failed to keep pace with the airport’s expansion by investing in the proper rail infrastructure needed to cater for the rapid growth we have seen in passenger numbers.”

The annual number of passengers using Stansted Airport has grown from less than 5 million just 10 years ago to more than 23 million today. Peter Sanders continued: “It is astonishing that even in the case of BAA’s present planning application which, if approved by Uttlesford District Council, could eventually enable Stansted to handle 45 million or even 50 million passengers a year, BAA continues to claim that there is no need for any new investment in rail infrastructure or road improvements.”

Uttlesford District Council is due to decide the outcome of the present planning application at a special meeting of its Development Control Committee on 29 November.

Peter Sanders concluded: “Amongst all the other appalling implications, if BAA’s latest expansion proposals were to be approved they would amount to a recipe for more traffic congestion and pollution and more overcrowding on our trains. In short, a recipe for gridlock.”


* Latest CAA airport statistics show that Stansted Airport handled 23.413m passengers in the year ended 30 September 2006. This compares to 4.808m in 1996.

* The following statistics are taken from the CAA Annual Passenger Survey 2005, Table 9 and (for comparison) the same table in the CAA Annual Passenger Survey 2004 (also Table 9).

Stansted: Modes of transport used by passengers

Mode of Transport1 2004 (%) 2005 (%)
Private car 48.4 48.0
Hire car 3.4 3.6
Taxi/minicab 7.7 8.7
Sub-total car use 59.5 60.3
Bus Coach 11.4 14.3
Sub-total road use 70.9 74.6
Rail 28.8 25.0
Other 0.3 0.4
Total 100.0 100.0
Total passengers2 18,293 19,200 +5.0%

1 These results are based on a departure survey only. The assumption, for weighting purposes, is that arriving and departing passengers share the same modal characteristics.

2 Excludes transfer passengers – i.e. on connecting flights and therefore not requiring any form of surface access transport. [In 2006, there were 2.45m transfer passengers at Stansted]

The CAA Air Passenger Survey Report can be found at: www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?categoryid=81&pagetype=90&pageid=6554

Campaigning to ensure Stansted Airport's authorised operations stay below harmful limits