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London Mayor Sees ‘Colossal’ Congestion From New Heathrow Runway

London Mayor Boris Johnson
London Mayor Boris Johnson said, “The people who run Heathrow are greatly underestimating the effect of a third runway on the local transport network.” Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

London Mayor Boris Johnson said building a third runway at the U.K. capital’s Heathrow airport, the busiest in Europe, would lead to “colossal” road congestion and overcrowding on trains.

The mayor’s comments, in a submission to the government-appointed panel that’s examining how to expand airport capacity in southeast England, are intended to support his case for a new hub to the east or north of the capital.

“The people who run Heathrow are greatly underestimating the effect of a third runway on the local transport network,” Johnson said. “They appear to be completely unconcerned about having cooked up a recipe for colossal levels of congestion that sentence their passengers and Londoners to years of misery.”

An extra runway at the existing airport would lead to more than 25 million additional road journeys a year, the mayor said in an e-mailed statement. That would require extra lanes on the M4 highway leading west out of London, while the M25 orbital motorway would need to be rerouted and put in a tunnel under the new landing strip. Including other road works, the cost might rise to 12 billion pounds ($19 billion), according to Johnson. New rail infrastructure might cost 10 billion pounds, he said.

Johnson has said Heathrow should be replaced by one of two undeveloped sites in the Thames estuary or by an expanded Stansted airport, 35 miles (55 kilometers) northeast of London.

The state-appointed Davies Commission on how to expand airport capacity is due to issue its final recommendation after the 2015 general election.

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