The Anonymous Widower

Heathrow Services Post Crossrail

To take some of the pictures for A Look At Stockley Junction, I took Heathrow Connect to the Airport..

My return ticket from Hayes and Harlington station, cost me £8.20 with a Senior Railcard, which must be one of the most expensive journeys  per mile in the UK. Especially, as there are only two trains per hour (tph). Considering that I could have done the journey quicker yesterday, using a 140 bus, as the train was ten minutes late.

But it would be difficult to take the pictures I wanted from the bus.

Arriving at Heathrow, I thought that a hot chocolate would be in order, so I set off for Terminal 2.

Passenger friendly the journey is not, so as I wanted to get back, I returned to the station to catch the next train.

I did not see a single sign to Heathrow Connect, with this one being typical.

Where's Heathrow Connect

Where’s Heathrow Connect

I knew where to go, as I’d walked it.

Incidentally, it is easy enough to find the overpriced Heathrow Express, but how many passengers with a brain want to go to the disconnected Paddington?

Some like me might actually want to go to Hayes and Harlington or perhaps Maidenhead.

I didn’t ask, but I wonbder if the advice to go to Maidenhead, is to take Heathrow Express to Paddington and then get a train to Maidenhead. The Oracle (Nation Rail’s Journey Planner) recommends taking Heathrow Connect to Hayes and Harlington, but will all the staff.

Current Services To The Airport

There are four ways to get to Heathrow by public transport.

Heathrow Express  – 4 tph to and from Paddington. – Overpriced

Heathrow Connect – 2 tph to and from a series of stations along the route to Paddington – Infrequent and overpriced.

Piccadilly Line – Slow, frequent, usually reliable and the most affordable.

Bus – For a lot of those living near the Airport, this is the preferred route.

This map from shows the layout of the rail and Underground lines.

Rail And Underground Lines At Heathrow

Rail And Underground Lines At Heathrow

Simple it isn’t!

But that is what you get if you dither over the next runway in the South-East for forty years.

Heathrow’s rail links are so very Topsy, unlike those at Birmingham, Edinburgh, Gatwick, London City, Luton, Manchester, Southend and Stansted.

Not all the others are perfect, but they’re getting better.


Crossrail will be the new wayto get to Heathrow and in some ways it is a replacement for Heathrow Connect. This is said under Future in the Wikipedia entry for Heathrow Connect.

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

So, it would appear that there will no substantial improvement until December 2019.

This is a detailed timetable, with particular reference to going between Heathrow and the City of London and Canary Wharf.


  • May 2018 – Heathrow Connect will be taken over by Crossrail. We’ll certainly see better signage and service under Transport for London’s management.
  • May 2018 – The Crossrail start schedule on Wikipedia, also shows that the shuttle between Heathrow Central (Terminals 1,2 and 3) and Terminal 4, will be transferred to Crossrail. Terminal 5 will be reached by using Heathrow Express from Heathrow Central.
  • May 2018 – Heathrow Connect in the guise of Crossrail will be serving erminals 1,2, 3 and 4, but not Terminal 5. Will we be seeing new Class 345 trains and a higher frequency to Heathrow? I woulden’t be surprised if Heathrow Airport, try every trick to keep Crossrail out of the Airport, to protect the revenue on Heathrow Express.
  • December 2018 – Crossrail services between Paddington and Abbey Wood will start, thus linking Paddington to  the City of London and Canary Wharf. There will probably be a longish walk between the two parts of Crossrail at Pasddington, but the tunnel across London, will give Paddington the much need-connectivity, it’s needed since the Second World.
  • May 2019 – Crossrail services between Paddington and Shenfield via Whitechapel will begin, thus meaning that many travellers East of Paddington, will use a single change there to get to and from Heathrow.
  • December 2019 – The full Crossrail should open, meaning that there will be direct trains between Abbey Wood and Heathrow Terminal 4 calling at Canary Wharf, Liverpool St-Moorgate, Farringdon, Tottenham Court Road, Bond Street, Paddington, Heathrow Central and all the stations in between.

Trains into the Airport will be.

  • 4 tph – Heathrow Express for Paddington, where many passengers will change to and from Crossrail.
  • 4 tph – Crossrail to Abbey Wood.

One will be expensive and the other will be affordable and much more convenient, as it reaches the places passengers want to start or finish their journey.

It looks good, but there are a some questions to answer.

Is eight tph enough trains to and from the Airport?

If you compare Heathrow with Gatwick, Luton and Stansted, eight tph seems good.

However, I found this article in TravelWeekly, which is entitled Gatwick outlines plans for a train departure to London every three minutes.

It gives a very good summary of the train services that will run to Gatwick after Thameslink is completed.

  • Four tph dedicated Gatwick Express trains to Victoria
  • Six tph to Victoria – originating from East and West Coastway, Horsham/Littlehampton, and Three Bridges/Haywards Heath
  • Four tph to Bedford via London Bridge – originating from Gatwick and Brighton
  •  Two tph to Cambridge via London Bridge – originating from Brighton
  • Two tph to Peterborough via London Bridge – originating from Horsham
  • Two tph to London Bridge – originating from Littlehampton/West Coastway, and Haywards Heath/Three Bridges.

That is a total of twenty trains to and from London and beyond and most of the South Coast from Southampton to Hastings.

How many better rail-connected airports are there anywhere in the world?

Luton and Stansted are also have aspirations to improve their rail links.

I think that passengers will press for increase in the frequency of services to the Airport and they’ll want more destinations.

After all Shenfield and Abbey Wood are planned to have 8 tph all day to and from Central London, with at least twice as many in the Peak.

How do passengers get to and from Iver, Langley, Maidenhead, Reading and all staions to the West of Hayes and Harlington?

A rail link into Terminal 5 from the West is planned, but something needs to be done before that is completed probably in the mid-2020s.

After December 2019, their will be four routes.

  • Go to Paddington and use Heathrow Express – Expensive
  • Go to Hayes and Harlington and take Crossrail into Heathrow Central – Requires two step-free changes of train.
  • Take a coach from Reading.
  • Go to Hayes and Harlington or West Drayton stations and use a local bus.

I can see something innovative being done at Hayes and Harlington station.

There is probably capacity between Heathrow Terminal 5 and Hayes and Harlington stations for a 4 tph shuttle in both directions, that would also solve the Terminal 5 connectivity problem.

Southall could even be an interesting alternative, as there is lots of space.

What Would Be My Solution?

I would use Hayes and Harlington station, as the interchange for Heathrow Airport.

In an ideal layout there would be three slow lines through Hayes and Harlington station, with two island platforms separating the lines. From the South, they would be.

  • The Reading-bound (Up Slow) line.
  • The Heathrow shuttle line, which would also be used by Crossrail trains going to and from Heathrow Terminal 4. This liine would be bi-directional.
  • The London-bound (Down Slow) line.

Between the platforms would be two welcoming island platforms to give passengers a step-across interchange, between trains.

It would need a major rethink of the station.

But consider.

  • Passengers from the West for Heathrow would just walk across the platform to get their train.
  • Passengers for Heathrow Central could take any train.
  • Passengers for Terminal 4 or Terminal 5 might need to wait a few minutes for an appropriate train.
  • Crossrail passengers for Terminal 5, would change at Hayes and Harlington.
  • Passengers from Heathrow for the West would just walk across the platform to get the train.
  • No passenger would need to change platforms using the step-free bridge.

What is being provided at Hayes and Harlington station is very much a poor design.


Will the current Heathrow Connect service between Paddington and Heathrow Central and Terminal 4 be dropped?

I can’t see any point to it, after Crossrail has an all-stations service to the Airport from Paddington.

How do passengers get to and from Terminal 5?

I proposed the shuttle to do this, with passengers changing at either Hayes and Harlington or Heathrow Central stations, to a train going to either Terminal 4 or Terminal 5.

Will passengers be able to use contactless cards to the Airport?

I think if the decision was down to the Mayor, Transport for London or the people of London, Oyster and contactless bank cards would be a way of paying a fare to Heathrow, as it is to Gatwick.

Will passengers like me with Freedom Passes, be able to use Crossrail to Heathrow?

Boris said Yes and I suppose the current Mayor, Transport for London and card holders, will expect it to be possible, as it is on the Piccadilly Line.


The Heathrow spur of Crossrail has not been thought out too well!







November 22, 2016 - Posted by | Travel | , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.