Heathrow Connect is a train service in London provided jointly by Heathrow Express and First Great Western, connecting Heathrow Airport with Template:LUL stations station. The service follows the same route as the non-stop Heathrow Express service but calls at certain intermediate stations, connecting several locations in west London with each other, the airport, and Central London. It runs every half-hour throughout the day and evening.
The service, launched on 12 June 2005, uses 5-coach Class 360/2 electric multiple-unit trains built by Siemens in Germany. These were originally built as Class 350 4-coach units. When BAA bought these units, an extra coach was added to make them 5-car units. Heathrow Connect terminates at Heathrow Central station (Terminals 1 & 3), and a dedicated Heathrow Express Class 360/2 'Shuttle' now operates between Heathrow Central and Heathrow Terminal 4 or Heathrow Terminal 5.
Fares between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington are the same as for First Great Western services, but the single fare between Hayes and Heathrow is £5.20. Oyster cards, Travelcards and Freedom Passes are not valid between Hayes and Harlington and Heathrow, but can be used throughout the rest of the route. When the service was first introduced in 2005, the fare for the Template:Convert journey from Hayes to Heathrow was £6, which at £2 per mile made it one of the most expensive train journeys in the world.
The service was designed principally for the use of BAA staff and West London residents for travel to Heathrow. With a staff ID card, discounted fares are available for the journey between Hayes and Heathrow.
Originally it was not intended to be used as a cheaper (but slower) alternative to the Heathrow Express service from Paddington to Heathrow: every Connect service is overtaken by an Express service en route, and at Paddington trains were originally advertised on departure boards as running to Hayes & Harlington only.
Now, Heathrow Connect is marketed as a much cheaper way to reach Paddington from Heathrow and vice versa, with a single fare of £9.50 (just under half the Heathrow Express fare) and a journey time of 25 minutes against the Express time of 15 minutes.
Standard-class travel between Terminals 1, 2 and 3 and Terminal 4 or Terminal 5 is free.
Because the service is provided as a joint venture between First Great Western and Heathrow Express and is not subject to the usual franchising specifications, it is not obliged to provide performance statistics.
Template:Heathrow rail services The service uses the Relief Lines of the Great Western Main Line between Airport Junction and Paddington, replacing some stopping services operated by the former First Great Western Link. These lines were electrified as part of the original Heathrow Express project as a diversionary route. The lines are electrified at 25 kV AC overhead and feature Automatic Train Protection.
To access the airport spur without crossing the Main Lines, trains in both directions use the flyover track originally built for Heathrow Express trains heading towards Paddington. This arrangement means Heathrow Connect trains to the airport use the flyover in the opposite direction to normal operation, and trains from Heathrow must cross both slow lines on the flat. As part of Crossrail works, the flyover will be rebuilt to overcome these limitations.
Heathrow Connect services run from London Paddington to Heathrow Central for Terminals 1, 2 & 3 every 30 minutes, Monday to Saturday. Heathrow Express provides a service between both Terminal 4 and Terminal 5 and Heathrow Central, with thereby maintaining a 15-minute frequency between the terminals. This service may be used free of charge by Heathrow Connect passengers changing terminals at Heathrow.
Heathrow Connect has a complex operating structure. The rolling stock and on-board staff are supplied by Heathrow Airport Holdings Limited (former BAA) through the Heathrow Express company. For the portion of the journey between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington, these are leased to First Great Western and the service is classed as being "operated" by the latter. Between Hayes & Harlington and Airport Junction, it runs using open-access rights obtained by Heathrow Express. Beyond Airport Junction the track is owned by Heathrow Airport Holdings Limited.
|Class||Image||Type||Top speed||Number||Routes operated||Built|
|Class 360/2 Desiro||100px||electric multiple unit||100||161||360201-360205||London Paddington - Heathrow Terminal 4||2004-2005|
On 20 May 2018, TfL Rail took over the services operated by Heathrow Connect as a precursor to the full opening of the Elizabeth line. Fares on the line are now integrated into the TfL fare scheme, and therefore match the fare scheme of London Underground services, with the exception of a premium for single journeys to and from Heathrow using Pay As You Go (Oyster and contactless). Passengers are able to use Oyster cards, Travelcards and Freedom Passes to travel between Hayes & Harlington and Heathrow.
From December 2019 the service will be re-branded as the Elizabeth line and train paths will be extended through the new tunnels at Paddington through Central London, calling at stations such as Bond Street, Liverpool Street and Canary Wharf. When the line opens fully, eastbound trains from Heathrow will terminate at Shenfield or Abbey Wood.
TfL Rail had originally planned to replace the existing Class 360 units with Class 345s, but due to the delays with the signalling system in the Heathrow Airport tunnels and the late delivery of Class 345 units, a contingency plan has been implemented. The Class 360s will continue to be used between Paddington and Heathrow, supplemented by two Class 345 trains per hour between Paddington and the extended bay platform at Hayes & Harlington until the Class 360s can be fully replaced.
- Heathrow Connect official website
- Heathrow...at a price: Guardian article regarding the expensive fares on the service, which have since been reduced.