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Heathrow Express is a high-frequency
airport rail link An airport rail link is a service providing passenger rail transport Rail transport (also known as train transport) is a means of transferring passengers and goods on wheeled vehicles running on rails, which are located on tracks. In c ...
between
London Heathrow Airport Heathrow Airport (), originally called ''London Airport'' until 1966 and now known as London Heathrow , is a major international airport An international airport is an airport An airport is an aerodrome An aerodrome (Commonwe ...
and
London Paddington Paddington, also known as London Paddington, is a London station group, Central London railway terminus and London Underground station complex, located on Praed Street in the Paddington area. The site has been the London terminus of services prov ...
. It is an
open-access operator An open-access operator is a train operating company A train operating company (TOC) is a business operating passenger trains on the railway system of Great Britain under the collective National Rail National Rail (NR) in the United King ...
, formed in 1998, and is operated by Heathrow Express Operating Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of
Heathrow Airport Holdings Heathrow Airport Holdings is the United Kingdom-based operator of Heathrow Airport. The company also operated Gatwick Airport Gatwick Airport (), also known as London Gatwick , is a major international airport near Crawley, West Sussex, ...
.


History

Heathrow Express was planned as a joint venture between BAA and
British Rail British Railways (BR), which from 1965 traded as British Rail, was the state-owned company that operated most of the overground rail transport in Great Britain The railway system in Great Britain is the oldest railway system in the world. T ...
, but was taken over fully by the former following the
privatisation of British Rail The privatisation of British Rail was the process by which ownership and operation of the railways of Great Britain passed from government control into private hands. Begun in 1994, it had been completed by 1997. The deregulation Deregulation ...
. Construction began in 1993. The principal works were two 5-mile single-bore tunnels (including eight escape shafts) and underground stations at and Terminal 4.
Electrification Electrification is the process of powering by electricity Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and motion Image:Leaving Yongsan Station.jpg, 300px, Motion involves a change in position In physics, mo ...
of the
Great Western Main Line The Great Western Main Line (GWML) is a in England that runs westwards from to . It connects to other main lines such as those from and . Opened in 1841, it was the original route of the first which was merged into the in 1948. It is now ...
(GWML) between Paddington and Airport Junction, where the new line diverged from the GWML, was also required. A
flying junction A flying junction or flyover is a railway junction at which one or more diverging or converging tracks in a multiple-track route cross other tracks on the route by bridge to avoid conflict with other train movements. A more technical term is "gra ...
known as ''Stockley Flyover'' was constructed to connect the tunnel to the GWML fast lines. Beginning in January 1998, an interim service called Heathrow FastTrain ran to a temporary station called Heathrow Junction, where a coach took passengers the rest of the way. From 1999 to 2003, a check-in service was provided at Paddington, allowing Heathrow Express passengers to check in and drop off their luggage prior to flights, which was similar to the service currently provided on
Hong Kong Hong Kong (; , ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR), is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Pe ...

Hong Kong
Airport Express The AirPort Express is a Wi-Fi base station product from Apple Inc., part of the AirPort product line. While more compact and in some ways simpler than another Apple Wi-Fi base station, the AirPort Extreme, the Express offers audio output capabi ...
. Checked baggage was transported to the airport by using the luggage space at the westbound first carriage. This service was withdrawn due to low usage and high cost of operation. In June 2005, Heathrow Express began jointly providing a new
Heathrow Connect Heathrow Connect was a train service in London provided jointly by Heathrow Express and Great Western Railway (train operating company), Great Western Railway (GWR), between Paddington railway station, Paddington station and Heathrow Airport. T ...
service, which saw a new twice-hourly stopping service on the same route between Paddington and Heathrow using EMUs from the
Siemens Desiro The Siemens Desiro is a family of Diesel multiple unit, diesel or electric multiple unit passenger trains developed by Siemens Mobility, a division of the German Siemens, Siemens AG conglomerate. The main variants are the Desiro Classic, Desiro ML ...
family. Heathrow Airport Holdings had provided the on-board staff through Heathrow Express as part of the contract. This continued until May 2018, which saw Heathrow Connect absorbed into
TfL Rail TfL Rail is the Passenger rail franchising in Great Britain#Concessions, concession operating commuter services on two separate railway lines in London and its environs whilst the planned link-up between these lines is being constructed. This w ...
ahead of the new
Crossrail Crossrail is a railway construction project underway mainly in central London. Its aim is to provide a high-frequency suburban passenger service crossing the capital from west to east, by connecting two major railway lines terminating in Londo ...
project, which will see Crossrail fully operate to Heathrow Airport through this takeover when it opens. In August 2018,
Great Western Railway The Great Western Railway (GWR) was a British railway company that linked London London is the and of and the . It stands on the in south-east England at the head of a down to the , and has been a major settlement for two millenni ...
took over the operation of Heathrow Express as part of a new management contract. Heathrow Airport continues to be responsible for commercial aspects of the service, including marketing, ticket pricing and revenue management, while GWR are now responsible for operations.


Service

Trains depart Paddington every 15 minutes from 05:10 (06:10 on Sunday) until 23:25, and there is a similar quarter-hourly service in the return direction. At Paddington they use dedicated platforms 6 and 7, although on occasions other platforms are used. There are two stops at Heathrow: Heathrow Central, serving Terminals 2 and 3 (journey time from Paddington 15 minutes); and
Heathrow Terminal 5 Heathrow Terminal 5 is an airport terminal at Heathrow Airport, the main airport serving London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The city st ...
(journey time 21 minutes), platforms 3 and 4. Until the opening of Terminal 5 on 27 March 2008, Heathrow Express terminated at
Heathrow Terminal 4 Heathrow Terminal 4 is an airport terminal Airport Main Terminal An airport terminal is a building at an airport where passengers transfer between ground transportation and the facilities that allow them to board and disembark from an Fixed ...
. In 2010, Heathrow Express introduced a dedicated shuttle between Heathrow Central and Terminal 4 that would be timed to connect with the main Heathrow Express service to/from Terminal 5 to improve connections between the terminals. Heathrow Express has been generally well received, not least because steps were taken to reduce the environmental impact, including disguising ventilation shafts as barns. The operator employs 160 staff, who work both in the airport terminals and on board the trains. Heathrow Express is a premium service costing more than twice that of Transport for London alternatives.


On board

Trains offer a choice of two classes of travel, express class which corresponds to standard class, and "business first" class which corresponds to first class. Both classes have large luggage storage spaces and complimentary WiFi. First class offers wider seats and a table at every seat. Children under 16 travel free of charge with a fare-paying adult; unaccompanied children may travel free of charge in express class only with proof of a same-day flight to or from Heathrow.


Route

The service runs along
Network Rail Network Rail Limited is the owner (via its subsidiary Network Rail Infrastructure Limited, which was known as Railtrack plc before 2002) and Railway infrastructure manager, infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain. ...

Network Rail
's
Great Western Main Line The Great Western Main Line (GWML) is a in England that runs westwards from to . It connects to other main lines such as those from and . Opened in 1841, it was the original route of the first which was merged into the in 1948. It is now ...
from Paddington to Airport Junction. The line from Airport Junction to the airport terminals is owned by
Heathrow Airport Holdings Heathrow Airport Holdings is the United Kingdom-based operator of Heathrow Airport. The company also operated Gatwick Airport Gatwick Airport (), also known as London Gatwick , is a major international airport near Crawley, West Sussex, ...
but maintained by Network Rail. The line is
electrified Electrification is the process of powering by electricity Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and motion Image:Leaving Yongsan Station.jpg, 300px, Motion involves a change in position In physics, mot ...
at overhead and uses
Automatic Train Protection#REDIRECT Automatic train protection#REDIRECT Automatic train protection {{redirect category shell, {{R from other capitalisation{{R from move ...
{{redirect category shell, {{R from other capitalisation{{R from move ...
(ATP) and
European Train Control System The European Train Control System (ETCS) is the signalling In signal processing Signal processing is an electrical engineering subfield that focuses on analysing, modifying, and synthesizing signals such as audio signal processing, ...
(ETCS). The controlling signal centre for the entire route is the Thames Valley Signalling Centre (TVSC) in Didcot.


Stations


Rolling stock


Current fleet

From 29 December 2020, the first of twelve Class 387 units from the
Bombardier Electrostar The Bombardier Electrostar (sold as the ADtranz Electrostar until 2001) is a family of electric multiple unit, electric multiple-unit (EMU) passenger trains manufactured by Bombardier Transportation (formerly Adtranz, ADtranz) at their Derby Litch ...
family began service with Heathrow Express, having replaced the Class 332 fleet. The units transferred from
Great Western Railway The Great Western Railway (GWR) was a British railway company that linked London London is the and of and the . It stands on the in south-east England at the head of a down to the , and has been a major settlement for two millenni ...
who are also responsible for their maintenance and operation within Heathrow Express. The units underwent modifications prior to their introduction on Heathrow Express which included the fitting of USB power sockets, extra luggage space, work tables, on-board WiFi and HD TVs. A new Business First cabin was also included in a 2+1 configuration with reclining seats.


Past fleet

Until May 2018, Heathrow Express leased a singular Class 360 unit which operated the shuttle service between Heathrow Central and
Heathrow Terminal 4 Heathrow Terminal 4 is an airport terminal Airport Main Terminal An airport terminal is a building at an airport where passengers transfer between ground transportation and the facilities that allow them to board and disembark from an Fixed ...
. After the withdrawal of the Class 360 unit, all Heathrow Express services were operated by Class 332 units built by CAF with traction equipment supplied by
Siemens Transportation Systems Siemens Mobility is a separately-managed company of Siemens, arising from a corporate restructuring effective 1 August 2018. With its global headquarters in Munich, Siemens Mobility has four core business units: Mobility Management, dedicated ...
. In 2019, it was announced that all the Class 332 units would be replaced by a fleet of twelve Class 387 units from
Great Western Railway The Great Western Railway (GWR) was a British railway company that linked London London is the and of and the . It stands on the in south-east England at the head of a down to the , and has been a major settlement for two millenni ...
with GWR also managing their introduction and arrival. The first Class 332 unit was withdrawn and scrapped in November 2020 and by 28 December 2020, all of the units were withdrawn.


See also

*
Gatwick Express Gatwick Express is a high-frequency rail passenger service between London Victoria, Gatwick Airport Gatwick Airport (), also known as London Gatwick , is a major international airport near Crawley, West Sussex, England, south of Central ...
*
Stansted Express#REDIRECT Stansted Express The Stansted Express is a direct train service linking London Liverpool Street to London Stansted Airport. It is a sub-brand of Greater Anglia, the current franchise operator of the East Anglia franchise. History In ...
*
Heathrow Connect Heathrow Connect was a train service in London provided jointly by Heathrow Express and Great Western Railway (train operating company), Great Western Railway (GWR), between Paddington railway station, Paddington station and Heathrow Airport. T ...


References


Further reading

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External links

* {{Use dmy dates, date=August 2021 Airport rail links in London Express Heathrow Express Open-access train operating companies Railway companies established in 1998 Railway operators in London Railway services introduced in 1998 1998 establishments in England British companies established in 1998