Airport access issues under the spotlight at international air-rail conference

Mon 13 Nov 2023

A major international conference focusing on the role and development of rail links to airports – as part of a sustainable airport access strategy – is being jointly organised by Heathrow Express and the International Air Rail Organisation (IARO).

The event, which comprises a full-day conference, together with technical site visits, takes place at the Marriott Hotel London Heathrow Airport on 28 and 29 November 2023.

The conference will bring together key stakeholders and industry leaders from the air-rail sector to discuss current challenges and review future policy and opportunities in the air rail transport sector. This aim is to share knowledge and ideas, with the target of developing efficient and practical rail links to airports.

"We are excited to be hosting this prestigious conference in collaboration with the International Air Rail Organisation," says Daniel Edwards, Business Lead and Director, Heathrow Express. "The conference will serve as a catalyst for shaping the future of air rail connectivity, enabling us to explore innovative solutions and cultivate meaningful partnerships within the industry."

The event will feature a series of insightful keynote presentations, panel discussions, and interactive sessions led by prominent experts and policymakers in the field. Attendees can expect to gain valuable insights into the latest developments in air rail policy, infrastructure development, sustainability practices, and competitive frameworks.

"We are delighted to be co-organizing this conference with Heathrow Express," says Patrick Hicks, General Secretary at the International Air Rail Organisation. "By bringing together industry pioneers and visionaries, we aim to facilitate constructive dialogue and collaboration that will drive the advancement of international air rail connectivity, enhancing the overall travel experience for passengers worldwide."

The meeting will commence with visits to a number of air-rail locations, including Heathrow Airport and Heathrow Express, Luton Airport and Luton DART, and the Elizabeth Line.

The day will conclude with a Welcome and Networking Reception for all Participants, sponsored by Heathrow Express.

- ENDS -


Notes to Editor:

Conference Sessions on Day 2 will cover a range of issues relevant to the air-rail industry
Session 1 will focus on Connecting London with its Airports, with presentations by Daniel Edwards - Business Lead & Director, Heathrow Express and Mike Bagshaw - Managing Director, MTR Elizabeth line.
Shamal Ratnayaka, Aviation Strategy Lead - Transport Strategy & Policy, Transport for London will explore the policy opportunities for promoting airport rail links - in economic, environmental and planning terms - and the commercial advantages derived by the airports, while also considering the market and funding challenges facing the airport rail sector. He will look at case studies which spotlight the added value they can offer to their passengers.
Air-Rail Choice, Demand and Options are key issues for the industry and will be covered in Session 2 of the Conference. Jim Steer, Founder, Steer Group, will ask what the vision is for a nation-wide rail system – and how Heathrow would fit into it. This will be followed by Matthew A Coogan, Coogan Associates, who will discuss how this profession has changed over the 25 years of the two organisations.
The third presentation in this Session is a Case Study on Boston's Logan Airport, in which Professor Mike Welch of Bridgewater State University will suggest that, while rail is the optimal solution for getting people out of their cars, there are situations where rail and bus must co-mingle to create the best solution. Massport’s successful development of the Logan Express bus system involves a strategy to reduce traffic congestion at the airport, improve the passenger experience and reduce the environmental impact of traveling to the airport.
The theme of Session 3 is "Sustainability, Recovery and Competition".  Heathrow’s strategy to de-carbonise travel to and from the airport, for passengers and staff, will be explained by Tim Leech, Head of Surface Access Strategy & Sponsorship, Heathrow Airport Ltd,
Recovery from 2020/2022 Pandemic has been a major on-going challenge for all airports and air-rail operators. Michael Forstner, Managing Director, City Air Terminal, Vienna will explain of the work carried out by CAT. And as well as recovery, there is the question of competition. Andrew Sharp, IARO Policy Advisor & Former Director-General, will give an overview of airport expresses and their competitors.
In the final session, Francesca Romano, Airport Accessibility Planning Manager, SEA Milan Airports, will give an update on the investment under way for the northern connection to Milan Malpensa Airport. The meeting will conclude with an invitation to the IARO 2024 Conference and Networking Meeting, which will be hosted by SEA Milan Airports in November 2024.

Further details about the conference agenda, speakers, and registration can be found on


Further information from:

Heathrow Express

International Air Rail Organisation