The Anonymous Widower

Crossrail To Heathrow, Reading And Southend

Crossrail To Heathrow

In the Wikipedia entry for Crossrail, there is a section called Extensions.

This is said under a sub-section called Heathrow Express.

The RUS also proposes integrating Heathrow Express services from Heathrow Terminal 5 into Crossrail to relieve the GWML and reduce the need for passengers to change at Paddington.

Note RUS refers to Network Rail’s Route Utilisation Study of 2011 and GWML is the Great Western Main Line.

Currently, Heathrow Express takes fifteen minutes to go between Paddington and Heathrow Central stations, with Heathrow Connect taking thirty-two minutes with five stops.

The journey time calculator on the Crossrail site, says the trains will take twenty-three minutes with six stops. But as I said in Are Crossrail And Bombardier Having Us On?, Crossrail’s journey time estimates aren’t very good to say the least.

I think until the Crossrail trains reach Heathrow next May 2018, any speculation I make of the time they take between Paddington and Heathrow Central will be very wide of the mark.

However, this can be said of Heathrow Express and Crossrail to Heathrow.

  • As the RUS says Heathrow Express services use four paths per hour on the GWML in both directions and these paths would be released for other services if Heathrow Express used the dedicated Crossrail tracks.
  • Most Heathrow Express passengers will not be going to Paddington or the surrounding area of the station.
  • When fully developed Crossrail will connect Canary Wharf, the City of London, the West End and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, to name just four important destinations, directly to Heathrow Airport.
  • If Crossrail works as it says on the box, every travel guide and expert, will recommend you use your contactless bank card to travel on this wonderful new airport train.
  • I would suspect, that given Heathrow’s expansion plans, that the Heathrow branch of Crossrail has a capacity in excess of ten trains per hour (tph).
  • The accommodation and comfort level in Crossrail’s Class 345 trains is high and well suited for an airport service.

I think that Heathrow Express will be increasingly deserted by passengers, in favour of the cheaper and more convenient Crossrail.

So could the two services be integrated together?

In theory, Heathrow Express could use the Crossrail tracks to Paddington, but there would be problems.

  • Heathrow Express trains would have to leave the Crossrail tracks to get into Paddington.
  • Would Crossrail want non-stop trains speeding through suburban stations like Southall, with their high suicide rates?

So then why not create a Heathrow Express, that used the Crossrail tracks and stopped at say Old Oak Common (for HS2), Paddington, Bond Street, Farringdon (for Thameslink), Liverpool Street and Canary Wharf?

  • Heathrow Express would have to buy new trains compatible with the platform-edge doors in Crossrail’s tunnels.
  • Where would the trains be turned back? Perhaps a turnback facility could be built at Liverpool Street at a cost of several hundred million pounds!
  • It would still speed through suburban stations.
  • Trains moving at different speeds would reduce the capacity of Crossrail.
  • As Crossrail and Heathrow Express will use the same platforms at stations, how do you stop people without expensive special tickets using Heathrow Express?

Heathrow will continue to argue to keep Heathrow Express, but in practice in the future, it will be as outdated a concept as trains pulled by steam engines.

So one of two things will happen.

  • Heathrow Express will continue as now, using two valuable platforms at Paddington and the four equally valuable paths per hour on the GWML.
  • It will be discontinued.

I believe that in some date in the future, only three rail services will serve Heathrow.

The two Crossrail services would probably be run back-to-back, so that fewer trains were turned back at Heathrow.

The two Crossrail branches to Heathrow and Reading would merge easily to the West of Hayes and Harlington station and there would be no complications caused by Heathrow Express trains crossing to and from the fast lines.

Crossrail To Reading

Just over a month ago, Transport for London (TfL) ordered four extra Crossrail trains and announced extra services to Heathrow and Reading. I discussed this in Crossrail Expands Before It Opens

I said this.

Four new Class 345 trains are being ordered, which will mean that in the Off Peak the following will happen.

  • Trains between Whitechapel and Paddington will increase from 16 tph  to 20.
  • Trains between Paddington and Shenfield will increase by two tph
  • Trains between Paddington and Abbey Wood will increase by two tph
  • Trains between Paddington and Reading will double from two tph to four.
  • Trains between Paddington and Maidenhead will increase from four tph to six
  • From December 2019, six tph will call at Heathrow Terminal 5.

I also found this quote in the article on Global Rail News, that was the source for the increased services.

The increased service frequency will be achieved, in part, by replacing five Great Western Railway services with Elizabeth line trains.

So could we be seeing a degree of co-operation between TfL, Crossrail and Great Western Railway, whereby the following services are provided?

  • Slow stopping services are run by Crossrail on the two slow lines.
  • Fast and semi-fast services are run by Great Western Railway on the two fast lines.

This would be operationally simple and might even create extra paths into London for more long-distance services.

The problem are the local stopping trains to Oxford (2 tph) and Bedwyn (1 tph). Will they run on the slow or fast lines between Paddington and Reading?

Consider the service to Bedwyn.

  • A five-car Class 800 train could run the service.
  • Small modifications at Bedwyn would probably be needed to allow the Class 800 train to use the turnback.
  • The train would run using electricity until the wires ran out near Newbury and then diesel.
  • The service could run semi-fast or non-stop between Paddington and Reading.
  • Nine-car Crossrail Class 345 trains would probably need a lot of platform lengthening, in addition to the electrification to be used to Bedwyn.

And the stopping service to Oxford.

  • A five-car Class 800 train could run the service.
  • A planned new bay platform at Oxford station would handle the service.
  • The train would run using electricity until the wires ran out near Didcot and then diesel.
  • The service could run semi-fast or non-stop between Paddington and Reading.
  • Niine-car Crossrail Class 345 trains would probably need some platform lengthening, in addition to the electrification, to be used to Oxford.

If the two services are considered together, they could join and split at Reading to save paths on the fast lines.

I think that on balance to use a pair of Class 800 trains would be better than to extend Crossrail past Reading.


  • A second service to Bedwyn could be easily added.
  • A large number of long-distance trains call at Reading station.
  • Reading has been designed for easy interchange between fast and slow services.
  • Crossrail will be providing at least four tph between Paddington and Reading that stop at all stations.
  • Reading has services into Waterloo.

I’m certain that the train companies can find a very efficient solution.

I can see a situation, where Great Western Railway aren’t going to need many Class 387 trains in the Thames Valley.

Crossrail To Oxford

This may seem a bit over the top, but analysis might show, that the best way to create more capacity between Reading and Oxford, might be to extend two Reading Crossrail services each hour to Oxford, when the electrification to Oxford is complete.

Crossrail To Southend

Just as it appears there is co-operation between Crossrail, Great Western Railway and TfL, could similar co-operation between Crossrail, Greater Anglia and TfL, result in improved services on the Shenfield to Southend Line? I wrote about this in Crossrail Tests Its Trains In Southend.

The Long Distance Class 345 Train

Adding Oxford and/or Southend to Crossrail services, may need a sub-class of Class 345 train to be created, due to the length of the journey. Toilets would be the obvious addition.





August 17, 2017 - Posted by | Transport | , , , ,


  1. I’ve read elsewhere that the Heathrow Western Access will be for Heathrow Express to Reading, not calling at any stations in-between. I was also under the impression that IET sets will be doing Bedwyn/Oxford to London replacing the Turbos that can’t be replaced by the 387s.

    Making the incontinent travel on a train to London without a lavatory (like the 345s) for well over an hour and a half is a good way of humiliating them in public – not a great advertisement for rail travel. The fact that any passenger in need will have to disembark, hope that the toilets aren’t out of order (not unusual on GWR), and wait for the next train shows the folly of the current 345 specification, making it harder to extend Crossrail routes in the future.

    Comment by Paul | August 17, 2017 | Reply

  2. I’m convinced Heathrow Express is doomed, as it is expensive and compared to Crossrail goes to the wrong place. Heathrow allowed Crossrail into Terminal 5 and gave the Terminal 4 to Oerminal 5 shuttle to Crossrail a few weeks ago. From riding the lone Crossrail train, I know that te Aventra is a far superior train and although Crossrail say it will take 8 minutes longer than Heathrow Express, I have reaspn to believe that Crossrail with all the stops will take perhaps two minutes longer to get to Paddington and it could be running every ten minutes.

    Bedwyn/Oxford are being replaced with Class 800 trains or IEPs.

    The toilets on the 345s is an interesting one. Most of the stations in the East now seem to have toilets and I’m sure that putting a toilet on the platform, is the way to do it with a train every couple of minutes.

    But if it was decided that the trains need a toilet, there is an simple solution. The 345s are cut-and-paste trains and have always been designed to have a tenth car inserted if required at some point.

    So the tenth car, could go in the middle and have a toilet!

    Comment by AnonW | August 18, 2017 | Reply

  3. It would be nice if they Could Expand Crossrail from Southend Victoria to London Liverpool Street. But I just wonder what will the Name be changed to instead of Greater Anglia. Not only that. I Think Crossrail Should Expand to Clacton on Sea, Hastings, Brighton, Peterborough, Ely, Ipswich, Eastbourne, Henley on Thames, Oxford, Eastbourne, Portsmouth, Nuneaton, Stevenage, Cambridge and Stansted Airport.

    Comment by Marc Ricketts | June 2, 2020 | Reply

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