London

Transport Secretary 'baffled' by TfL's Heathrow expansion cost estimate

A view of Heathrow Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A decision on whether to expand Heathrow or Gatwick later this month

The transport secretary has said he is "baffled" by warnings from Transport for London (TfL) that improving road and rail links to an expanded Heathrow Airport could cost up to £20bn.

Chris Grayling was giving evidence to House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee where he dismissed the accuracy of TfL's estimate.

Last month the government backed building a third runway at Heathrow.

The Airports Commission estimated transport improvements would be £5bn.

But TfL responded to the commission's recommendations in October 2015 by insisting that figure "underestimates the actual cost by £10 to £15bn".

Image caption Chris Grayling said he was baffled and that TfL's warnings were ludicrous

Mr Grayling said: "It's ludicrous, to be honest. I do not see where £15bn can come from if you look at what we're actually seeking to deliver around Heathrow Airport.

"It feels to me like somebody has taken every possible transport improvement in the whole of metropolitan London and thrown it into the mix, and probably funding a large chunk of Crossrail 2 out of it as well.

"I'm baffled as to where TfL manages to get a £15bn figure from because I don't know what you'd spend the money on."

'Quantum step forward'

The transport secretary said the cost of the runway crossing the M25 will be met "directly by the airport" while plans for rail links such as HS2, Crossrail and an improved London Underground Piccadilly line were already happening.

Heathrow would make a "financial contribution" towards further proposals to create rail links between the airport and the lines to Reading and Waterloo, Mr Grayling said.

Image copyright TFL

The transport secretary added: "It will be a quantum step forward in public transport access to Heathrow.

"It will become by far the best connected airport in the country if you look at the different rail and Underground access it will have.

"I'm very satisfied that there is a very bold, comprehensive plan to deliver all that and I understand how it's going to be funded."

A TfL spokesman responded to the transport secretary's comments saying Heathrow expansion would "significantly increase demand for access to the airport".

He added: "Our expert analysis indicates approximately £15bn more investment will be needed beyond what is already committed and the key component of this is a new southern rail link from Waterloo to Heathrow.

"Thus far, the government have given no commitments to deliver this new rail link, despite the Airport's Commissions recommendation to do so and, without such a commitment, the aspirations for no increase in road traffic are not credible."

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