Friday, June 26, 2009
A think tank has decided that what Scotland really really needs is a giant transport hub centred around a "super-airport" just outside Edinburgh.
The Super-Airport would be accompanied by a high-speed train terminal linking all Scotland's cities, and the whole shebang would be surrounded by roads taking you to the four corners of the country.
This proposal is so wrong on so many levels I barely know where to start. So let me start with what I know best.
I'm all for high-speed rail travel being rolled out across the country, and I'm all for more transport hubs. But running a high-speed line from this "super-airport" to Edinburgh, a proposed 5 minute journey, provides no economies. Particularly when it would only take 10 minutes for a "normal" train.
The study also doesn't seem to take into account the current bus service (quite fast compared to other airports in my experience) and the future tram service (which will be even faster).
The "Super-Airport" itself is a non-starter. There are no benefits to having a centralised airport serving an entire country, albeit a small one like Scotland. All that does is increase the pollution from people trying to get to the airport. It also assumes that air travel will continue to grow, but we've seen in this economy that air passenger numbers are way down with some airlines struggling to cope (BA asking staff to work for free, for example).
Plus, and this is the damning part in my opinion, the "Super-Airport" won't actually replace the current airports, even if politicians at the time say it will. Once built, they would be told that it would be bad for the economy to demolish the existing infrastructure so we'd better let the market decide where airlines will land - and inevitably, the airlines will choose the cities rather than a hub.
Do I even need to tell you my opinion of building more roads to service an unnecessary airport?