UK Transport Wiki
Heathrow Express

Franchise(s):Not subject to franchising;
service began 23 June 1998
Main route(s):London PaddingtonHeathrow Airport
Other route(s):None
Fleet size:14 Class 332 sets
Stations called at:4 (3 operated)
National Rail abbreviation:HX
Parent company:BAA Limited
File:332005 A London Paddington.JPG

Siemens Class 332 No. 332005 at London Paddington.

Heathrow Express is an express train service from London Heathrow Airport to London Paddington station in Central London operated by the Heathrow Express Operating Authority, a wholly-owned subsidiary of BAA. It was opened by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1998. It is not legally part of the National Rail system, even though it shares track with National Rail trains for much of its journey and terminates at a London mainline station.


File:332008 A First Class Interior.JPG

The interior of First Class aboard the Heathrow Express Class 332.

File:332008 A Standard Class TSO Interior.JPG

The Standard Class interior aboard the Heathrow Express Class 332.

Trains leave Paddington every 15 minutes from 05.10 until 23.25, 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, serving Terminals 1, 2, 3 (journey time from Paddington 15 minutes), and Heathrow Terminal 5 (journey time 21 minutes). Until the opening of Terminal 5 at Heathrow on 27 March 2008, Heathrow Express also served Terminal 4, but this has now been discontinued and Terminal 4 is now the terminus for the Heathrow Express Terminal 4 'shuttle' (Mondays to Saturdays) and the Heathrow Connect instead.

The service uses Class 332 electric multiple unit trains built by Siemens. These incorporate video monitors and the ability to use mobile phones throughout the journey — even in tunnels. The monitors are mostly used for advertising purposes and for the broadcast of news and weather updates produced for Heathrow Express by Sky News. Prior to April 2010 news content was provided 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, particularly of its high fares and the poor air quality at Paddington station[citation needed] due to the fact that all main-line trains there are diesel-hauled.

A single Express class fare is £16.50 online, £18.00 at ticket offices and machines, and £23 if purchased onboard. A single journey in First class is £26.00 and £50.00 return.

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 significantly lower fares are charged. This takes approximately 15 minutes longer than Heathrow Express, but offers connections to the London Underground (Central Line and District Line) at Ealing Broadway. The introduction of Heathrow Connect has probably somewhat deflected criticism of the high fares on Heathrow Express.

File:Hex yp ticket.jpg

A Heathrow Express single ticket with a 16-25 Railcard Discount.

In 2010, Heathrow Express announced that, as a way of improving the connections between the terminals at the airport, it would be introducing a dedicated shuttle between Heathrow Central and Terminal 4 that would be timed to connect with the main Heathrow Express service to Terminal 5.[1]

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


The latest performance figure for Heathrow Express for the fourth quarter of the 2009-10 financial year was 95.8% PPM - meaning that 95.8 per cent of trains arrived at their destination within 5 minutes of the scheduled time.


Template:Heathrow rail services 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.

On 21 October 1994 one of the partially-constructed tunnels carrying the line into the Terminal 1,2,3 complex collapsed with only minutes warning.[2] 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 and fined £1.2 million.[2] The collapse had far-reaching consequences, since it also held up construction of the extended Jubilee Line of the London Underground, where contractors were using similar tunnelling methods.[2]

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 but maintained on their behalf by Network Rail. The line is electrified at 25 kV AC overhead and uses Automatic Train Protection (ATP). The controlling signalbox for the entire route is Slough (New) IECC.


Station Image Time
Paddington 100px 0 mins
Heathrow Central 100px 15 mins
Heathrow Terminal 5 100px 21 mins

Sights en Route[]

There are a number of striking sights on the route which may be unfamiliar to visitors:

  • A number of gasometers (gas holders), including a prominent one at Southall
  • The Southall station sign is in both Latin and Gurmukhī alphabets, due to the large Punjabi population there.

Rolling stock[]

Current fleet[]

Class Image Type Top speed Number Routes operated Built
 mph   km/h 
Class 332 100px electric multiple unit 100 160 14 London Paddington - Heathrow Airport 1998
Class 360 electric multiple unit 100 161 1 Heathrow Central - Heathrow Terminal 4 2002–2003


As part of the Heathrow Airtrack scheme, which proposes the development of a direct rail service from Heathrow Airport through south-west London to Waterloo, BAA has proposed that the existing Heathrow Express service be extended from Terminal 5 and run south to terminate at Staines. This would then provide additional rail links to destinations such as Reading Central and Guildford.[3]


  1. Railway Herald News Journal - Railway Herald Issue 228, p6
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Harper, Keith (2000-07-06). Managers 'overlooked risk' in airport tunnel collapse. The Guardian. Retrieved on 2009-08-21.
  3. Improving public transport access to Heathrow Airport - Consultation brochure 2 (pdf). BAA Heathrow Airport (October 2008). Retrieved on 10 October 2008.

External links[]

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See also[]


Template:London Heathrow Airport Template:Use dmy dates

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