The Anonymous Widower

Elizabeth Line Takes Fliers Away From Heathrow Express

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on The Times.

These three paragraphs add details to the story.

The opening of the Elizabeth Line has eaten into the revenues of Heathrow Express, the country’s most expensive railway service per mile travelled.

Filings reveal that Heathrow Express, which offers a 15-minute service between London Paddington and Heathrow, has failed to recover to pre-pandemic levels despite flight volumes at the airport returning to near-normal. Heathrow said revenues from Heathrow Express in the first three months of the year were £22 million.

While that is 50 per cent more than in the same period last year, when Covid-19 travel restrictions were beginning to be relaxed, it is almost a third down on the £31 million of revenues in the first quarter of 2019.

Considering how air travel is on the upturn, Heathrow Express would not appear to be performing as the airport expects.

Remember, that First Group are paid by Heathrow Airport to run the service, which is owned by the airport.

In So Many Cases On A Train!, I wrote about a trip from West Ealing to Moorgate station. These were my opening sentences.

This afternoon about three, I went to West Ealing station to see what it was like to transfer between the Elizabeth Line Central Tunnel and the Western Branch at Paddington.

Coming back, I took an Elizabeth Line service that had started from Heathrow Airport and it was one of the busiest Lizzies, I’d ever ridden!

To get on the train at West Ealing station, I got in to probably coach 4 of 9, as that was in the dry and the back end of the train I needed for Moorgate station was certainly in the wet.

I then had to walk half the length of the train to get to the back of the train.

It was not easy, as the train was full of scores of passengers with large wheelie cases.

It certainly got me thinking about how passengers were getting to and from Heathrow and I came to this conclusion.

Lizzie will start a revolution in travel to and from Heathrow.

Judging by the title of the article in The Times, the revolution has already started.

Consider these reasons.

  • Heathrow Express is overpriced.
  • It doesn’t go where many passengers want to go.
  • It’s not the best way to get workers to and from the airport.
  • The ULEZ will discourage passengers and staff from driving to the airport.

In Effects Of The ULEZ In West London, I said this about journeys to and from the airport.

Heathrow Airport is one of the world’s busiest airports and 76,000 people work at the airport, with many more employed nearby.

The airport handled 61.6 million passengers in 2022, which is a few short of 170,000 per day.

If you consider that those that work at the airport do two trips per day and passengers generally do one, that means there are 322,000 trips per day to or from the airport.

But as it now so easy to get to the Airport using the Elizabeth Line will more people use the new line to meet and greet and say goodbye to loved ones or business associates. Since the Elizabeth Line opened, I’ve met a couple of friends at Heathrow, who were passing through.

I wonder, if that daily journey total of 322,000 could be nearer to 350,000 or even 400,000.

If the ULEZ charge makes some passengers and staff switch from their car to using a bus or train, this probably means that public transport to and from the airport, will need to be boosted by a substantial amount.

I can see airport workers lobbying for free tickets on Heathrow Express, but they probably live closer to the airport than Paddington or perhaps even in the Eastern areas of London served by the Elizabeth Line.

The Elizabeth Line Is Showing Signs Of Running Out Of Capacity

In the last few weeks, I’ve been on some very full Elizabeth Line trains.

Articles, like this one on Rail Advent, which is entitled Transport for London Looks Into Funding For Additional Elizabeth Line Trains, are also starting to appear.

These three paragraphs explain the problem.

Transport for London has announced that they are looking for confirmation from the Government regarding funding so that they can look into the possibility of purchasing additional Elizabeth Line trains.

The news from TfL comes after the recent announcement of delays to HS2 terminating at London Euston.

TfL says that without the extra trains, there is insufficient capacity on the Elizabeth Line (until HS2 is extended to Euston in the 2040s) for passengers looking to use HS2 and the Elizabeth Line to get into Central London.

Alstom also appear to want the space in the factory to build other trains.

So it appears that Transport for London must act soon.

Heathrow Express Needs To Be Repurposed

In Extending The Elizabeth Line – High Speed Trains On The Elizabeth Line, I talked about running faster trains through the Central Tunnel of the Elizabeth Line.

As any train would have to be compatible with the platform-edge doors in the central tunnel of the Elizabeth Line, the trains would have to be dimensionally identical to the current Class 345 trains.

  • Nine cars
  • Possibility of lengthening to ten cars.
  • 204.73 metres long.
  • 6 sets of doors per carriage
  • Ability to run under full digital signalling.
  • The trains would be designed for a higher speed of at least 110 or 125 mph, to enable running on the fast lines of the Great Western Main Line.
  • The trains would have Heathrow Express branding and interior.

Services could be as follows.

  • Heathrow Terminal 4 and Southend Victoria via Bond Street and Liverpool Street for the City and Stratford.
  • Heathrow Terminal 5 and Ebbsfleet International via Bond Street and Liverpool Street for the City and Canary Wharf.


  1. Both services would be two trains per hour (tph)
  2. Traffic would determine, which Eastern terminal is paired with which Western terminal.
  3. Each route would also have two Elizabeth Line tph on the same route.

The Heathrow Express services would run as follows.

  • Between Heathrow Airport and Paddington, they would run as now.
  • I believe that by using the power of the digital signalling, they could be slotted into the queue of Elizabeth Line trains taking the Central Tunnel.
  • They would run through the Central Tunnel, as just another Elizabeth Line train, stopping at all stations.
  • Southend Victoria trains would stop at Stratford, take the fast lines to Shenfield, after which they would stop at all stations to Southend Victoria.
  • Ebbsfleet International trains would stop at all stations from Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet International.


  1. Trains would stop at Old Oak Common after it opened for High Speed Two and GWR.
  2. All ticketing would be contactless.
  3. Passengers using Heathrow Express to the West of Paddington, would pay an extra fee, but nothing like today’s price.

These Heathrow Express routes would have advantages.

  • Southend Airport and Southend Victoria would get a direct fast train to Central London and High Speed Two.
  • Heathrow would have a direct connection with Continental train services at Ebbsfleet International.
  • Capacity could be increased by going to ten-car trains.
  • Heathrow Express could release their platforms at Paddington.
  • There would be two fast tph between Heathrow and Stratford.
  • There would be two fast tph between Heathrow and Canary Wharf.
  • There would be four fast tph between Heathrow and Bond Street for the shopping and Liverpool Street for the City of London.
  • There would be four fast tph between Heathrow and Farringdon for Thameslink, Gatwick and Luton Airports.

Heathrow Express trains will be fifteen minutes faster to all destinations.

I don’t think there would be any major disadvantages.



May 1, 2023 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Unless your business person arriving by taxi no sane person would use HEX. Crossrail is the only way with the service further speeded up after May TT change. Quite frankly the HEX service should be pulled and the units sent elsewhere I would also thin the picc line service so the old 73 stock is given a bit more life before the new trains come.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | May 1, 2023 | Reply

  2. There is a classic case here of playing the well-known game of musical trains.

    Heathrow Express gets repurposed and brand new Class 345 trains, but with an appropriate interior.
    The Class 387 trains replace those on Gatwick Express
    The current Gatwick Express trains are added to a large pool of Class 377, 379 and 387 trains that get converted into battery-electric trains.

    I’m currently adding a bit more to the original post. Come back in an hour.

    Comment by AnonW | May 1, 2023 | Reply

  3. […] Passengers seem to be deserting Heathrow Express, as I wrote in Elizabeth Line Takes Fliers Away From Heathrow Express. […]

    Pingback by A Waste Of Valuable Resources Between Paddington And Heathrow « The Anonymous Widower | May 21, 2023 | Reply

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