Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Doncaster Robin Hood airport rail link 'essential' for growth

Donaster Robin Hood Airport
Image caption A railway link would enable the airport to attract more airlines offering more flights, it said

Doncaster Airport has said constructing a rail link at the site is an essential part of its 20-year expansion plan.

The airport's managing director, Steve Gill, said a rail link to the East Coast mainline would significantly increase the airport's catchment area.

He admitted the scheme was in the early stages and said detailed proposals would be released in January.

Doncaster Council, which supports the plan, said formal talks with Network Rail would take place in 2017.

It would involve a four-mile (7km) diversion to the main London to Scotland railway line, which runs just a mile away from the airport site.

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Mr Gill said: "It is an exciting opportunity to transform what is a growing regional airport into a major international gateway.

"We are always talking to airlines but what they want to see is the enrichment of the catchment.

"With something like the East Coast mainline plugged in you get to a lot more people a lot more quickly and that has its attractions to the airlines."

The rail connection would mean a travel time to Newcastle or London of around 90 minutes.

Neil Firth, head of major projects and investment at Doncaster Council, said informal talks about the viability of the scheme had taken place with Network Rail.

"The east coast mainline diversion into the airport, with the regional connectivity that gives, is the best option," he said.

No firm cost for realigning the route into the airport site has been given but Mr Firth said initial estimates suggested a cost of "around £100m".

"Compared to big infrastructure projects and the outputs it could deliver it is quite a modest sum," he added.

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