London Southend Airport’s potentially 'game changing’ new railway station was officially opened by the UK’s Minister for Transport, Theresa Villiers, today.
Operational since July this year, the new rail link makes it possible for passengers to travel to the City of London in just 53 minutes, or to Stratford – venue for the Olympics in 2012 – in 44 minutes.
The railway station is operated by Stobart Group’s rail division, Stobart Rail, making all airport and railway station staff, Stobart employees.
Situated in the heart of the airport, fewer than 100 paces from the new terminal building currently under construction, the station is an integral part of the new terminal development, designed to maximise efficiency and ease of use for passengers.
Part of the new terminal’s service standard is a commitment to no more than four minutes waiting time at security, and a 15-minutes from ‘plane to train’ target for passengers carrying hand-luggage only.
Villiers was joined by Andrew Tinkler, William Stobart – CEO and chief operating officer respectively of airport owner, the Stobart Group – as well as by easyJet's Catherine Lynn, Aer Arann's Paul Schütz and Stobart Air's Alastair Welch at Wednesday's ceremony.
Tinkler enthused: “The new railway station is a key part of our offering as a new airport for the region – whisking people into central London in under an hour, which is very competitive with the other airports around the capital.”
Under Stobart’s ownership, the airport has achieved significant growth in the last two years, with several new carriers signing up to use the new London Southend facilities.
Most significant amongst the new carriers is easyJet, which, from April 2012 will launch 70 departures each week with nine routes, including favourites such as Amsterdam, Alicante, Barcelona, Belfast, Ibiza, Jersey, Malaga and Mallorca with more to come as the new service matures.
In addition, Ireland’s Aer Arann started operating two daily return flights to Galway and Waterford earlier this year, and Flybe continues its weekly summer-season services to Jersey.
The airport’s newest partner is Jetisfaction, which soon will offer regular services to Germany.
Transport Minister, Theresa Villiers said: "I firmly believe that regional airports have an important role to play right across the country, providing domestic and international connections and contributing to local economies.”