A new rail link between London Southend Airport and the British capital has officially opened, ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The airport's new rail station links Southend to London Liverpool Street, a major station in the City of London and will also stop at Stratford, the main site under development for the Olympic Games.

Journey time to central London will be 53 minutes, around eight minutes longer than the journey from Stansted Airport, although the time to Stratford is 44 minutes.

The airport is aiming to give passengers with hand luggage a 'plane-to-train' time of just 15 minutes, with a maximum four-minute wait at security checkpoints in the other direction.

Although Stratford currently serves only small airlines, its importance is expected to grow significantly next year with the launch of easyJet services, with 70 flights a week scheduled to begin in April 2012 to destinations across Europe.

The airport also confirmed this week that a new carrier, Jetisfaction, will soon offer regular services to and from Germany.