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Stansted Airport wants London train service to return to pre-pandemic levels


The managing director of London Stansted today claimed that restoring four trains an hour between the gateway and London Liverpool Street was key to delivering vital sustainability targets and supporting the airport’s growth plans.

Speaking at an annual Transport Forum, Gareth Powell said the frequency of trains between the airport and Liverpool Street dropped from four to two per during the pandemic and the axed services haven’t been restored despite passenger numbers being close to pre-pandemic levels.

The reduced frequency, he believes, has made rail less appealing and less convenient for passengers and employees, which has in turn encouraged many to switch to private cars or taxis, contradicting one of the key pillars of the UK government’s recent aviation strategy aimed at securing a sustainable recovery from COVID.

London Stansted prides itself at being the UK’s leading major airport in terms of the share of passengers using public transport, with more than 50% travelling to or from the airport by bus, coach or train in 2019.

However, the latest CAA modal share data shows an 11% decline in the use of rail as a proportion of all trips to the airport compared to 2019’s figures.

“The government’s decision to cut the Stansted Express from four trains to two trains per hour, owing to reduced passenger numbers and the financial impact of COVID was perfectly understandable at the time,” admitted Powell.

“But now the pandemic restrictions have been lifted, we’re fast returning to 2019 volumes, and we therefore need a higher frequency, more convenient rail service, the likes of which serve the other major London airports,” said Powell.

“This will also enable us to deliver the most sustainable recovery possible, encouraging more passengers back onto trains and out of private cars, in line with a key pillar of the government’s recent aviation strategy.”

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