Third runway a grave mistake for the environment, says RMT

RMT press release, issued today

Union will continue to campaign for sustainable high-speed rail

BRITAIN’S BIGGEST rail union will continue to campaign for high-speed rail as the sensible and sustainable alternative to the massive and unnecessary Heathrow airport expansion announced today.

Giving the runway the nod has undermined the crucial challenge to reduce carbon emissions and has set back the achievement of a modern transport network that would serve the environment and the economy into the future, says RMT

“Today’s decision is a major setback, but an announcement is only an announcement and the campaign for a sensible and sustainable alternative will go on,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.

“In the face of overwhelming evidence that rapid development of high-speed rail would make a third runway unnecessary, the government has instead caved in to big-business.

“A high-speed rail network linking with Heathrow makes sense as part of a transport strategy that aims to reduce carbon emissions but, however it is dressed up, massive airport expansion will worsen pollution.

“The example of Spain shows how high-speed rail and the electrification of our existing network would dramatically reduce unnecessary short-haul air travel and free up existing capacity for longer-haul and intercontinental flights.

“A modern, high-speed, low carbon and sustainable rail network is the cleaner alternative that would do away with the need for a third runway but would also create tens of thousands of jobs, including at Heathrow,” Bob Crow said.


Notes to editors: A report Who says there is no alternative? compiled for RMT by John Stewart, chair of the Campaign for Better Transport, last year, points out that well over a third of flights from Heathrow are short-haul, that more than 20 per cent serve destinations already served by a viable rail alternative, and that 20 per cent more are to places where rail is the potential alternative.

It also shows that where high-speed rail links have been opened there has been a significant switch from air to rail, and that the UK is in danger of being left behind as countries like Spain reap the benefits of massive rail investment.

It says that Paris remains Heathrow’s top destination and there are as many flights leaving for Edinburgh as for New York, and that if a viable, fast and sustainable alternative to short-haul flights was provided the case for Heathrow expansion would evaporate.

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