London Heathrow Owner BAA Backs U.K.'s High-Speed Rail Plan
BAA Ltd., the owner of London’s Heathrow airport, is backing the construction of a second high- speed rail line in the U.K., saying it will improve Heathrow’s ability to compete against rival hubs in continental Europe.
U.K. Transport Secretary Philip Hammond last month proposed building a Y-shaped high-speed rail network connecting the West Midlands to Manchester and Leeds in the north of England. The proposal was initiated by Hammond’s predecessor, Andrew Adonis.
“High-speed rail is a win for everyone, provided it offers frequent connections and great passenger experience,” BAA Chief Executive Officer Colin Matthews will say in a speech today at a U.K. High Speed Rail Conference in London, according to an e- mailed BAA statement. “It’s also vital that high-speed rail is fast enough to tempt passengers away from flying short-haul to Europe and continuing from there.”
Heathrow, Europe’s biggest airport, competes with other hubs such as Paris’s Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam’s Schipol for international traffic. BAA is owned by Spanish construction company Ferrovial SA.
The U.K. government is close to completing the sale of the rights to operate the country’s first high-speed line, which connects the Channel Tunnel with St. Pancras International station in central London. Groupe Eurotunnel SA, the owner and operator of the Channel Tunnel, as part of the GB Speedrail partnership, is among companies that have submitted a bid to run the line.
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