Beauty and the Beast

I had a grand idea some time ago. For several years, London has been wrestling with the issue of air travel to and from the capital. Heathrow and Gatwick are close to capacity. Should a new runway be added to one of those two? Or a new airport be built to the east of the city? I had a better idea. Enlarge Bournemouth airport and have that serve London’s growing needs. There’s plenty of land available and the runway is big enough – Concorde used to land here now and again.

Given that the airport is nearly 100 miles away from the centre of London, it might seem an initially crazy idea. But if the old disused line between Ringwood and Brockenhurst were put back into use (already looked at and deemed feasible) and extended to Bournemouth airport, then with careful timetabling (and rather substantial investment) transfer time to a London terminal could be run in less than 90 minutes. Not much more than the bus services doing the same jobs for Luton and Stansted.


There’s another benefit to having Bournemouth deal with London traffic. The weather. We see much less snow and ice than the east of the country. Indeed, I was ‘promoting’ my plan to a colleague earlier this week as the Beast from the East came in and wreaked havoc at the other end of the M3 motorway whilst we remained unscathed. Then Storm Emma came up from the south, met the remains of the Beast, and brought the west to a grinding halt. Cars, trains, planes all froze in place. My grand plan looked less grand. And Emma turned out to not be much of a beauty.


On the plus side, I’ve had two very relaxed days at work. Zero trains, no replacement buses and no taxis. My job has simply involved telling those who were foolhardy enough to arrive at the station to go home. Or walk. Take yer pick! There haven’t been too many to disappoint. Conditions were terrible, especially for pedestrians. Freezing rain came down overnight on top of the snow, adding a layer of ice to already difficult surfaces. My 20 minute walk at 5am to my nearest station was an hour long trek. Penguin impersonation was a necessity.


Snowfall also makes for a pleasant walk. We Brits might not know how to operate essential infrastructure in adverse weather, but I do have all the right equipment for a wintry walk. Warm jacket, matching gloves and hat and thermal long johns and socks. And a decent pair of Clarks walking boots, which have served me well for years.


I still think there is merit in my grand plan for Bournemouth Airport’s transformation into a major international hub. The weather argument remains valid, generally speaking. I think the reopening of the old rail line would likely be a success commercially. Indeed, it would take some pressure off of the Bournemouth to London mainline. But I’m equally sure that it’s a non starter. The initial investment is unlikely to be made available, and the line would be reopening through ‘rich people’s towns’. I don’t think they’d be fans.


5 thoughts on “Beauty and the Beast

  1. Obviously the layer of ice makes things more complicated, but your photos look like just a light snowfall here in Ohio. It reminds me of how in the southern U.S. life grinds to a halt if there is so much as a dusting of snow. They don’t know how to handle snow.
    We were on the fringes of the deadly nor’easter that wreaked havoc on our Atlantic coast. Fortunately for us it was just a day of heavy rain followed by a night of snow. That has now largely melted.


    • We had the sort of snow that would make all my friends in Canada and the northerly states of the US chuckle. Things do grind to a halt here, too. And people will grumble at how ill prepared we are. But it just doesn’t happen often enough, or for long enough to justify the cost of preparing for it. The same applied in Mexico City. Once every few years, it got cold enough that I wished I had central heating. But at no stage did I ever think that having it fitted was a proper use of my money.

      On Friday, someone had a proper grumble about the trains and how things still work in Scandinavia. So I asked him how much it cost him for the snow tyres on his car. He looked confused.


  2. I think your idea of using Bournemouth airport as expansion is nothing short of brilliant! Heathrow and Stansfield both charge very hefty landing fees, and for the tourist trade, Bournemouth would be perfect. Certainly it’d be good for folks who want to cruise out of Southampton, And there are other touristic sites in and around there. Might well be good for the local economy too. I’d suggest you try to pitch your idea to some local Chamber of Commerce types and see if you can get the meme rolling.

    Honestly, if the ticket prices weren’t so ridiculously high, I’d be in England much more often. But it costs me twice as much to fly from Boston to London as to San Francisco, despite their being basically equidistant.


    Kim G
    Redding, CA
    Where we love to escape to anywhere at this point.


    • Of course, Southampton have their own airport. But Bournemouth is that bit further west. Every mile counts when it comes to UK weather. The colleague that I pitched the idea to wasn’t convinced. He lives under the flight path. It would make Bournemouth a good deal noisier. But that’s not a problem as far as I’m concerned. The plan would effectively make Bournemouth a London suburb. House prices would rise handsomely. And I’d sell up, pocket the profit and go live somewhere quieter. Problem solved…

      Ticket prices are high. The best I ever find from Chicago are about £400. Pft.


      • I still like your idea. I think you should run with it.
        By the way, in Boston I live about 5-6 miles from the airport. Planes come in for landing over my house, but descending planes don’t make that much noise. It’s the takeoff that’s killer in the noise dep’t. So depending on prevailing winds and population patterns, that airport might not be all that noisy in practise.


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