Heathrow Express

Heathrow Express

Infobox Rail companies
image_filename=332005 at Paddington 2.jpg
franchise=Not subject to franchising;
service began 23 June 1998
regions=London PaddingtonHeathrow Airport
fleet=14 Class 332 sets
stations=4 (3 operated)
parent_company=BAA Limited

Heathrow Express is a train service from Heathrow Airport to Paddington in Central London operated by the Heathrow Express Operating Authority; a wholly owned subsidiary of BAA. The service is not part of the National Rail system, despite part of its journey sharing track with National Rail trains and terminating at a London mainline station.

Tony Blair performed the ceremonial opening.


Trains leave Paddington every 15 minutes from 05.10 until 23.25 (23.10 on Saturdays), and there is a similar quarter-hourly service in the return direction. At Paddington, Heathrow Express trains use two dedicated platforms (6 and 7). There are two stops at Heathrow: Heathrow Central station, serving Terminals 1, 2, 3 (journey time from Paddington approximately 15 minutes), and Heathrow Terminal 5 station (journey time approximately 21 minutes). Until the opening of Terminal 5 at Heathrow on 27 March 2008, Heathrow Express services served Terminal 4, but this has now been discontinued and Terminal 4 is now the new terminus for Heathrow Connect instead.

The service uses Class 332 electric multiple unit trains built by Siemens. The trains incorporate numerous modern features including video monitors and the ability to use mobile phones throughout the journey—even when in tunnels. The monitors are mostly used for advertising purposes and for the broadcast of news and weather updates produced for Heathrow Express by BBC World News.

Since its opening, Heathrow Express has been generally well received, not least because steps were taken to reduce the environmental impact of the train line. Measures included disguising ventilation shafts as barns. The service has received some criticism, however, mainly due to its cost, the lack of a quiet zone on some trains and the poor air quality at Paddington station.

As of September 2008, it costs around £16.50 for a single journey in standard class and around £26.00 for first class.

There is also a stopping service (Heathrow Connect) which takes the same route from Central London to Heathrow, using the slower relief lines, on which lower fares are charged. While this service takes 10 minutes longer it usefully offers connections to the Central Line and District Line at Ealing Broadway.

Airport commuters can get a discount through the Airport Commuter scheme operated by BAA. A monthly pass costs £130 as of January 2007.


Construction began in 1993. The principal works were the construction of a 5 mile tunnel and underground stations at Heathrow, and electrification of the Great Western Main Line between Paddington and "Airport Junction". A flying junction known as "Stockley Flyover" was constructed to connect the tunnel to the GWML fast lines.

One of the most catastrophic civil engineering disasters in British history occurred on 21 October 1994, when one of the partially constructed tunnels carrying the railway into the Terminal 1,2,3 complex collapsed without warning. An office building and a car park were consumed by the huge crater which opened up between Heathrow's two parallel runways. The principal contractor, Balfour Beatty, was found guilty of negligence in February 1999. The collapse had far reaching consequences, since it also stopped construction of the extended Jubilee Line of the London Underground, where contractors were using similar tunnelling methods.

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. The full service opened on 23 June 1998.


The service runs along the Great Western Main Line from Paddington to airport junction (Network Rail owned infrastructure). The line from airport junction to the airport terminals is owned by BAA. The line is electrified at 25 kV AC overhead and uses Automatic Train Protection. The Controlling Signalbox for the entire route is Slough (New) IECC.

Rolling Stock

Current fleet

External links

* [http://www.heathrowexpress.com/ Heathrow Express homepage]
* [http://www.airportexpressalliance.com/ Airport Express Alliance]

See also

* Heathrow Connect
* Gatwick Express
* Stansted Express
* First Great Western
* Airport rail link

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