HL Deb 13 December 1966 vol 278 cc1543-6

2.35 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government when it is expected to provide direct access between the West London Air Terminal and Gloucester Road Station.]


My Lords, as the noble Lord knows, the Transport Co-ordinating Council for London are studying the possibility of more radical improvements to transport facilities between Heathrow Airport and Central London. From work done already it is clear that a full assessment of the need for and form of town centre terminal facilities, and of where they might best be sited, are crucial factors in reaching decisions. My right honourable friend the Minister of Transport thinks it unwise, while this is being done, to contemplate spending large sums on improving existing facilities.


My Lords, in thanking the noble Lord for a rather unsatisfactory reply, may I inquire whether that means that the proposal is shelved meanwhile?


My Lords, this is a difficult question, as I am sure the noble Lord will understand. The Transport Co-ordinating Council for London are considering, for example, the extension of the Piccadilly line from Hounslow West to London Airport; secondly, the building of a British Rail link between the Airport and Victoria, and various other possibilities, among which are better road links or "unconventional"links—for example, monorails. We consider it would be unwise to think of spending perhaps £1 million on the sort of facilities the noble Lord is thinking of if, for example, the Airport-Victoria rail link was set up.


My Lords, in that case may I ask another supplementary? In view of the fact that at present, in addition to the great inconvenience to passengers, some of whom are foreign and many of whom are carrying luggage between the station and the terminal, there is a very real risk of road accidents to pedestrians in this hazardous crossing, particularly in bad light and bad weather, would he ask the authorities concerned—and they are many—whether they would improve the finger posting between the platforms of the Tube station and the second floor concourse in the terminal building?


My Lords, I should think that is a very practical suggestion, which of coursee I will pass on. We want to do everything possible to make it convenient for people to go from Gloucester Road Station to the Air Terminal, but we do not want in these circumstances to spend the million pounds or so that might be involved.


My Lords, could my noble friend give any indication when these long-term proposals are likely to come to fruition? It is well known what real inconvenience there is for people travelling from Cromwell Road to the airport. Seeing that the Tube runs practically adjacent to or alongside the Air Terminal, it is difficult to understand the figure of £1 million for making a connection from the Tube to the Air Terminal. It would not be necessary to have a completely new Tube station with all the expense involved. A halt, I am sure, would be considerably to the convenience of passengers.


My Lords, this matter has been very carefully considered, and the point my noble friend put has been thought of—the establishment of something in the form he has suggested, there or thereabouts. Traffic conditions in this place are very complex and very difficult; there are many difficulties involved. My noble friend asked when the decision will be made. I cannot say definitely, but certainly not before the middle of next year, and probably rather later.


My Lords, is my noble friend aware that in 1946–47, when the competition was arranged for the building of London Airport and for its general organisation, a connection between Osterley Park and the Central Terminal was then under consideration? How long is it going to be under consideration, seeing that that was twenty years ago?


My Lords, my noble friend should not fire nasty ones into my back. I cannot answer the question which my noble friend has asked.


My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord could help. I think there is something here which really is a public difficulty. Is he aware that many people, not young, with luggage to carry, find this journey a very real problem? Would it be possible for him to tell the House, or if he cannot, to get the information, what it would cost to make an actual communication purely between Gloucester Road Tube Station and West London Air Terminal, with nothing at all grander in view?


My Lords, I am aware of the difficulties involved for older people, because I occasionally make this journey myself. I think the point which the noble Baroness has made, of something less grand than the proposal for a travelator, or something of that sort, must be considered, but it would be unwise to spend very much money on something which might be of no use if we have better links between London and the Airport.


My Lords, the noble Lord has dealt generously with the question affecting the West London Terminal and Gloucester Road. Would he urge on the Minister of Transport that a Warwick Road flyover from the West would much accelerate the traffic from the Airport to the West London Terminal. It is a matter of vital importance to get over those lights, which can delay traffic so much.


My Lords, that is rather another question. If the noble Lord would care to put it down, I will try to provide an answer.

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