Going south? A Northern Line train approaching Bank station
Going south? A Northern Line train approaching Bank station

Brexit uncertainty blamed for drop in use of London transport

Travel in London has reduced, says top public transport executive

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Thursday 14 September 2017 12:28
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​Brexit has reduced the amount of travel in London, a top public transport executive has said.

Alex Williams, Director of City Planning for Transport for London, told a conference in the capital: “Total trips in London, a leading indicator of economic activity, are going down partly because of the uncertainty of Brexit.”

He told The Independent: “Our issue is that we don’t know if this is a kind of blip or part of a longer-term trend.

“It’s a one per cent reduction on the Tube, which is a great bellwether for the Bank of England about how the economy is going.

“It could be Brexit, it could be the terrorist incidents in the summer affecting domestic tourism in particular. But our concern is that five months into the financial year, that seems to be continuing.”

The conference, organised by the Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum, is discussing the proposed expansion of Heathrow. Five years ago this month, the Coalition Government set up the Davies Commission to consider options for expanding airport capacity in south-east England.

In July 2015, Sir Howard Davies’ Airports Commission unanimously recommended a third runway at Heathrow. Its findings were approved last year, but consultations are continuing. Unless the National Policy Statement is approved by Parliament by next summer, the planned completion of the runway in 2025 will be jeopardised.

Emma Gilthorpe, Executive Director Expansion for Heathrow, called for faster progress. She told The Independent: “With Brexit it is even more important than we not only send a message that we’re open for business, but that we also have the mechanics to deliver links to long-haul markets that we may not do business with today, but we will absolutely need to do business with tomorrow.

“There was a very strong economic case before. I think with Brexit the urgency increases.”

But Cait Hewitt, Deputy Director of the Aviation Environment Federation, said there was no certainty about continued growth: “We’ve undoubtedly gone through in the past few years a period of very unexpected growth in aviation. I think the key question is the extent to which that will continue in the next few decades.”

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