|Main route(s):||London Paddington – Heathrow Airport|
|Fleet size:||5 Class 360 sets|
|Stations called at:||8 (none operated)|
|National Rail abbreviation:||HC|
|Parent company:||Heathrow Airport Holdings/FirstGroup|
Heathrow Connect is a train service in London provided jointly by Heathrow Express and Great Western Railway (GWR), connecting Heathrow Airport with Paddington. 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 and will be replaced by Crossrail in December 2019.
Heathrow Connect has a complex operating structure. The rolling stock and on-board staff are supplied by Heathrow Airport Holdings (formerly BAA) through the Heathrow Express company. For the portion of the journey between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington, these are leased to GWR 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.
Because the service is provided as a joint venture between GWR and Heathrow Express and is not subject to the usual franchising specifications, it is not obliged to provide performance statistics.
Fares between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington are the same as for GWR services, but the single fare between Hayes and Heathrow is £6.20 as of October 2016. 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 3-mile (4.8 km) 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 airport staff and West London residents for travel to Heathrow or Paddington. 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 £10.10 (slightly less than half the Heathrow Express fare) and a journey time of 25 minutes against the Express time of 15 minutes. Passengers can also use their Railcards to access discounts.
Standard-class travel between Terminals 2, 3, 4 or 5 is free.
Heathrow area 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, a new flyover is being rebuilt to overcome these limitations. The new flyover will allow Heathrow Connect trains returning from the airport, to reach the 'up' track (relief line towards London), without crossing the 'down' track (relief line towards Reading). At present, Heathrow Connect trains traveling towards the airport, may have to wait at Hayes & Harlington for either Heathrow Express or Connect trains to use the flyover returning from the airport.
The service pattern, as of October 2016, is as follows:
- Monday-Saturday, Heathrow Connect services run half-hourly between Paddington and Terminal 5, stopping at Ealing Broadway, West Ealing, Hanwell, Southall, Hayes & Harlington and Heathrow Central (for terminals 2 & 3). There is also one late-evening London-bound service on Mondays-Thursdays that stops at Acton Main Line.
- On Sundays, Heathrow Connect services continue to terminate at Terminal 5, but do not call at West Ealing or Hanwell. Service frequency is also reduced from half-hourly to hourly.
Heathrow Connect 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.
|Class||Image||Type||Top speed||Quantity||Number||Seat Layout||Routes operated||Built|
|Class 360/2 Desiro||electric multiple unit||100||161||5||360201-360205||2+3||London Paddington – Heathrow Terminal 5||2004–2005|
From May 2018, Crossrail trains will replace all Heathrow Connect trains between London Paddington and Heathrow terminals 2, 3 and 4. Furthermore, as of December 2019 all services will run through the new tunnels at Paddington to central London destinations including Bond Street, Liverpool Street and Canary Wharf.
- "Heathrow Airport". Crossrail. Retrieved 2016-11-30.
- Greater Western franchise ITT, page 69
- "Heathrow ... at a price". The Observer. London. 12 June 2005. Retrieved 26 October 2009.
- Heathrow Connect - Train Times
- "TfL Rail". Transport for London. Retrieved 2016-11-30.
- alwaystouchout.com Heathrow Connect Archived 7 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
Media related to Heathrow Connect at Wikimedia Commons