The Anonymous Widower

How Will Crossrail Fit Into Heathrow?

With all the unnecessary arguments going on about Crossrail and access to Heathrow Airport, that I wrote about in Heathrow Express And Crossrail, I thought it would be an idea to look at the layout of the rail lines at the airport. This rail map from, shows the lines as they are now.

Heathrow Rail Lines

Heathrow Rail Lines

Look at the Crossrail web site page for Heathrow and this is said.

Crossrail will provide four trains per hour in each direction between central London and Heathrow Airport (Terminals 2 & 3 and Terminal 4), replacing the two trains per hour Heathrow Connect. Crossrail services to and from the airport will call at local stations into central London.

To match the train service with passenger demand at particular stations, and to achieve shorter journey times for longer distance passengers, trains will not usually call at all stations.

The Heathrow Express will continue to operate as prior to the construction of Crossrail but we will replace the Heathrow Connect overground service with a more frequent service that stops at other stations on the way to Paddington.

So it would appear that Crossrail will use the two platforms at the Terminal Four station, as a terminus. Is that enough platforms?

Passengers for Terminal Five will have to change trains at Heathrow Central station.

It’s certainly not the best way to design a railway.

In a real world where passengers come first, Heathrow Express would be confined to history and two Crossrail trains per hour would go to each of Terminal Four and Terminal Five.

As I write this post, this article on Global Rail News has just been published. It has a title of Heathrow Express fleet out of service for “foreseeable future”.

So perhaps the trains are imposing a solution to the problem and leaving the paths open for a sensible Crossrail-only solution.

Many would pay serious money to be a fly on the wall at the meeting between Heathrow Airport, Transport for London, the Mayor of London, the Office of Rail Regulation and perhaps a couple of heavyweight government ministers, when the solution to Crossrail’s access to Heathrow is sorted.

The Piccadilly Line And Heathrow

I’ve just looked at the map again and it prompted me to look at the Piccadilly Line At Heathrow.

Note how the Piccadilly Line starts from Hatton Cross station calls at the single platform Terminal Four station and then curves in a single-track loop before it arrives at the station for Terminals 1, 2 and 3.

This must be the simplest way to create a the end of an Underground line, if you can just keep digging.

A few years earlier, a similar tunnel was dug in Liverpool to link the Wirral Line to the city centre, when Merseyrail was created.

Both tunnels are single unidirectional lines running clockwise.

A similar layout could be used to take the Victoria Line to Herne Hill, as I wrote about in Will The Victoria Line Go To Herne Hill?

The Piccadilly Line And Heathrow After Crossrail

Some might question if it is still necessary to have the Piccadilly Line run to Heathrow after Crossrail has been built.

But consider the following.

  • The upgrade of the Piccadilly Line with new signalling and new trains, will bring an increase in capacity and faster times from Central London to the Airport.
  • For large numbers of people living along the route of the Piccadilly Line or just one change away from it, it will still be the easiest way to get to Heathrow.
  • The Piccadilly Line will be the only line other than Heathrow Express, that serves all five terminals.
  • There will certainly be contactless ticketing to Heathrow, if you use the Piccadilly Line.
  • If politics stop the use of Freedom Passes to Heathrow on Crossrail, it will probably be available on the Piccadilly Line.

I also think, that there is scope for sorting out the western ends of the Piccadilly Line to improve connectivity in the area.

Slough Borough Council have already proposed extending the Piccadilly Line from Terminal 5 to Slough.

If you look at the route of the Piccadilly Line westward from South Kensington station, the line seems to cross several important rail lines without any interchange.

As an example this is the area centred on the old Earls Court Exhibition Centre, which is now being developed as housing.

Around Earl's Court

Around Earl’s Court

I think there’s scope for a better station at Earl’s Court on the Piccadilly Line, that connects with the West London Line.

Unless of course, the development is so upmarket, the residents wouldn’t be seen dead in trains. But developers have told me that in London, good stations improve marketability.

An improved station here would give good connections between Heathrow and South London and especially to Clapham Junction and East Croydon stations.

Other possibilities would be to connect the Piccadilly Line to the North London Line and a reinstated Brentford Branch.

I can’t believe that if Transport for London spend millions on new signalling and trains on the line, that they won’t do some other improvements.




March 2, 2016 - Posted by | Transport | , , ,

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