36 flights a day between Heathrow and Manchester! Madness! That was for me the most stocking part of an article in today’s Guardian about Tory Party transport plans. Factor in the other London airports and the total is much higher (Manchester Airport flight search here – type ‘LON’ as the code to get all London flights). The Tories instead want to get people onto trains. Fine idea.
So how’s this for a comparison: what happens in France between Lyon and Paris? Same sort of arrangement – large city in the regions to the capital. Manchester-London is 336km and Lyon-Paris is 466km. Yet there are only 8 daily flights between Lyon and Paris!
So what makes the difference?
Time – journey time is roughly 2 hours in each case, Lyon-Paris 15 minutes quicker on average
Price – at peak hours UK prices are higher, but off peak prices are largely equivalent
Connections – there are direct TGV trains from Lyon to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. No equivalent exists in the UK where only the Heathrow Express connects with Heathrow.
Psyche and reliability – SNCF is a national treasure, while British trains are a national disaster, and related to that the perceived lack of reliability of British trains
Capacity – could the West Coast Main Line transport all the people that wanted to make the journey even if they would take the train? 16 carriage, double-deck TGVs are common. Not so on the UK network!