hidden europe 25

Britain's weakest links

by Nicky Gardner

Picture above: Saint-Exupéry railway station at Lyon airport, designed by architect Santiago Calatrava (photo © luSh / istockphoto.com).


What do the English railway stations at Denton, Reddish South, Pilning and Teesside Airport have in common? The answer is that they have virtually no trains. Ghost trains, ghost stations and more as we review Britain's weakest links.

An airport with a good rail link clearly has the edge over one that enjoys no such connection. Take Lyon (pictured above), where passengers can connect directly from flights onto high-speed TGV trains (to Paris, Grenoble and the Alps) and also onto local trains into Lyon. So no surprise that more and more airports across Europe beg to be woven into their national rail networks. Over the last three years airports at Budapest (Ferihegy), Kraków (Balice), Moscow (Sheremetyevo) and Hamburg (Fuhlsbüttel) have all benefitted from new rail stations affording easier transfers from train to plane.

Provincial airports around Britain must look with envy at rivals that enjoy a terminal within a short walk of the train station. Pity the likes of Bristol, Inverness, Exeter and Liverpool which have no such link. While airports like Southampton, Prestwick and Manchester, with rail stations close to the terminals, each year see more passengers connecting from trains onto planes and vice versa.

So hidden europe, ever keen to applaud fine examples of integrated transport policies in action, set out to discover which UK airport has the most improved rail service for 2009.

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