Southend Airport’s boss has suggested that high-speed Crossrail trains should be extended to the airport to provide a faster service for travellers to and from London.

Glyn Jones, chief executive of Stobart Aviation, suggested to transport secretary Chris Grayling that the £16billion rail project from Heathrow Airport should be extended to Southend.

His suggestion came as Mr Grayling met with the transport selection committee yesterday afternoon to discuss the government’s national policy on airports.

Mr Jones said that a Crossrail extension would provide a faster alternative to building a third runway at Heathrow. He told Travel Weekly: “MPs need to urge the transport secretary to look more carefully at the smaller airports which can at least help solve the current capacity crisis.

“London Southend could accommodate ten times the million passengers it has now.

“But the government must firstly support the improvement of connecting infrastructure. In our case, we ideally need a non-stop rail connection to at least Stratford in east London.

“Here’s a thought for parliamentarians. How about extending the new Elizabeth line to Southend? I bet it’d be quicker to do that than the time it’ll take for the first bulldozer to start building a third runway at Heathrow.

“The runway is at least a decade away, will come at huge cost, won’t ultimately fix the desperate shortage in capacity, and let’s be honest, the knock-on effects of delays are not getting any better.”

Mr Jones’ comments come after the Echo reported in August last year how Crossrail trains were being tested on the Southend line, and were spotted at Southend Victoria and Southend Airport stations, in hopes they can run on a regular basis.

The new Crossrail line would be used on the route from Liverpool Street to Shenfield. It is due to fully open in December 2019 from Reading and Heathrow in the west through central London tunnels across to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

David Burch, chairman of the Essex Chamber of Commerce, said: “In principle I think it’s a good idea because this will make travelling easier for people, and they could reach to more destinations in London.“I am for anything that will improve access in and out of Southend so all options should be explored. Southend is already attracting a lot of people from London. But before plans are being carried out, the two railway networks need to discuss how they will link the service.”