EDWARD Roberts did me a significant favour (Letters, March 11), giving my name no fewer than seven mentions in his item on a potential Alconbury airport. I will try to deal with each of his points. Yes, the A14 is congested, not least by traffic from the
EDWARD Roberts did me a significant favour (Letters, March 11), giving my name no fewer than seven mentions in his item on a potential Alconbury airport. I will try to deal with each of his points.
Yes, the A14 is congested, not least by traffic from the north en route to Stansted. This includes my own car once or twice a year, which would not be there if I could catch a flight from Alconbury.
The busway to Cambridge is supposed to remove at least some of this traffic, at considerable expense. Whether rebuilding the railway, especially if it had been extended back to the main line by whatever route is possible now and was electrified, would have been more successful in abstracting the road traffic we are unlikely to discover.
I would love to be able to fly out of Yorkshire, but I cannot use flights that are not provided. Robin Hood Airport is still less than four years old. Ryanair has only three destinations from Leeds/Bradford, and dozens from Stansted. UK Aviation has an almost terminal case of metropolitan-mania (a London airport is the only place from which to fly, especially out of Europe, hence the desire for a third runway at Heathrow, and still a clamour for second runways at both Gatwick and Stansted).
Lyon is France's busiest provincial airport, from which Air France serves 29 destinations. Manchester is England's busiest provincial airport, from which BA serves only Heathrow, such is the desire to funnel so much traffic through the hub, rather than have direct flights.
A "full up" East Coast main line is a frequently-made comment, and was one of the justifications used for refusing Grand Central the extra trains from Bradford, despite one option being coupling onto the rear of its Sunderland train, so using no more paths.
My own survey counted only eight northbound and nine southbound trains in a two-hour window during a morning south of Doncaster. One might reasonably expect a few more to be fitted in. We still have a short-train mentality. Hull Trains are now longer but still only five coaches.
Until recently the then-GNER used spare regional Eurostar trains that were 14 coaches long. Surprisingly despite their length, they did not have many more seats than the nine-coach IC225 trains, so we could do better. France runs 16-coach TGVs, so it shows the potential. We may need to upgrade the power supply but it can be done.
As recently as the 1980s, one of the last major line closures was Spalding-March. Putting back this 19-mile link would effectively double the line from Doncaster to London, perhaps the reason the Great Northern and Great Eastern built the line in the first place, and it was used by both freight and as a diversionary route. In a climate of job creation, maybe this will move up the shopping list.
Flattering though the suggestion is that I want it for my personal use, I am more than willing to share it with my five million fellow-Yorkies. There are as many of us as the Scots, and more than both Norway and Finland. And yes, many of us are fed up with being forced to clog up your corner of the country en route to our flight.
Catching it at Alconbury, if airlines still refuse to operate out of Yorkshire, reduces the trek, provides another (much needed?) runway in the South-East, and 700 families near Heathrow would not lose their homes to a third runway - surely a lesser of two evils, if not a panacea?