An Innovative Surface Access Strategy For a Major Uk Airport

An Innovative Surface Access Strategy For a Major Uk Airport


R Jones, West Sussex County Council, UK



In accordance with Government guidelines for major UK airports, BAA Gatwick produced a Surface Access Strategy for Gatwick Airport in 2000. The Strategy was intended to run for 9 years and contains nearly 40 targets and commitments. These targets include modal shift towards the use of public transport by both air passengers and airport employees. The transport strategy is a component of a sustainable development strategy, which has been drawn up in agreement with the strategic and local spatial planning and transport authorities to provide the basis for airport expansion.

The substance of both strategies has been reinforced by the signing of a legal agreement by the Airport Company, BAA Gatwick, the strategic local authority, West Sussex County Council, and the local planning authority, Crawley Borough Council. This legal agreement contains a range of obligation upon all three parties. In addition the 8 strategic and local authorities that surround Gatwick Airport have entered into a ?Memorandum of Understanding?. Under the terms of this agreement all authorities are kept informed about proposed developments at the airport and are given the opportunity to comment upon them.
The Surface Access Strategy is not a planning consent, but sets out the transport requirements to enable the airport to grow to a throughput of 40 million passengers per annum. The strategy covers all modes, including walking and cycling, and the transport facilities both on and off the airport. Whilst the strategy was developed by BAA Gatwick in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, its delivery is not entirely dependent upon BAA. Other delivery agencies include the private rail and bus operators, other on-airport companies (BAA employs less than 20% of those working at the airport), the Highways Agency (an arm of Central Government) and the local authorities. Finance for the transport projects comes from both the private and public sector and is not always available up front.

Typical initiatives being used to help deliver modal shift are;

*The first guided bus network in the UK to serve an airport
*Improvements to the on-airport bus and train stations
*Company travel plans to encourage car sharing and modal shift to public transport
*Cut price bus and train season tickets for airport employees.

In the time since the strategy was drawn up, several events have impacted upon air traffic at Gatwick Airport. In particular, the general down turn in air travel since 9/11 the withdrawal of some long distance routes from Gatwick by British Airways and the growth of low cost carriers at Gatwick. The surface transport characteristics of Gatwick?s air passengers have changed as a result and now present even greater challenges in terms of achieving modal shift to bus and train.

The legal agreement between BAA Gatwick and the local authorities requires a review of the transport strategy every three years. The current review is to take into account these new challenges as well as reflecting upon the lessons to be learned from the initiatives taken so far. For example, the anticipated increase in the use of improved local bus services by airport employees has already been exceeded only 3 years into the strategy period. On the other hand, despite a service of over 600 trains a day calling at the airport station, the proportion of air passengers that chooses to use rail for surface access to the airport has remained static.

To summarise, the surface access strategy for Gatwick Airport is unusual in that;

*It has been agreed with a wide range of stakeholders.
*Delivery is not dependent entirely upon the airport company.
*Finance comes from both the private and public sectors.
*The strategy is reinforced by a legal agreement between the airport company and the strategic and local authorities.
*All the strategic and local authorities in the vicinity of the airport work together on airport development proposals.
*The strategy is subject to review every 3 years.


Association for European Transport