Double up on Heathrow

Concorde’s longest serving pilot and the promoter of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link alignment (delivered on time and on budget, now HS1) put forward a brilliantly simple solution to the problem of capacity and congestion at Heathrow Airport in Double up on Heathrow: a simple, privately funded, affordable and achievable solution, published on Monday 8 July by the Centre for Policy Studies.

Jock Lowe and Mark Bostock set out their plans for “Heathrow Hub”, an integrated air and rail facility which would nearly double slot capacity at Heathrow while also mitigating noise and environmental concerns. It involves:

  • extending both of the existing runways up to a total length of about 7,000 metres and dividing them so that they each provide two, full-length, runways, allowing simultaneous take-offs and landings; and,
  • providing a new transport interchange immediately north of Terminal 5, directly connecting the airport with the M25 motorway, Crossrail, the Great Western Main Line and, as an option, an alternative HS2 route via the airport (should the HS2 project proceed).

They calculate that, under this scheme, the average airport user charge would be only £24 per passenger (compared to Heathrow’s current £18), whilst Lord Foster’s Thames Hub proposal would require a charge of at least £62 (a figure which would be even higher for Boris Island).

With economic growth in the UK being held back by the shortage of airport capacity in the South East and by the uncertainty over how this will be resolved, Jock Lowe and Mark Bostock demonstrate that “Heathrow Hub” has five main advantages:

  • Capacity – doubling the number of Heathrow’s runway slots would allow more flights while also reducing delays and improving its resilience and efficiency. Importantly, this would also allow some runway alternation throughout the day;
  • Quick – significant new runway capacity could be completed within five years;
  • Quiet – the extra capacity could allow the airport to open later in the morning and possibly allow innovative noise reduction techniques. Very few, if any, new areas will be brought into the airport’s noise footprint. In addition, early morning arrivals could land more than two miles further west, reducing noise over London;
  • Cost effective – the cost and the airport user charges would be significantly lower than that of any new airport – an issue critical to the UK’s competitiveness. It would also be entirely privately funded;
  • Connected – by at last connecting Heathrow to the national rail network, it will reduce road congestion and improve regional access to the only hub airport in the UK.


The Davies Commission on airport capacity submitted its Interim Report on Tuesday 17 September 2013 and shortlisted Heathrow Hub’s Northern runway proposals as outlined in this report.

This is fantastic news, and we will continue to make the case for the ‘double up’ option to be extended to the Southern runway, giving Heathrow four runways.

Media Impact:

‘Our proposals could give London the airport capacity it needs at a reasonable cost. Heathrow is arguably as important to UK economic competitiveness as the English language, our timezone and our legal system – why would we even consider dispensing with such an asset?’

‘‘The ‘quick, quiet and cost-effective’ solution – including the creation of a sixth terminal called ‘T6’ – would retain the West London airport’s status as the UK’s major air hub while reducing noise and sidestepping opposition to a new third runway.’

Jock Lowe, Mark Bostock - Friday, 5th July, 2013