|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 First Great Western, connecting Heathrow Airport with Paddington station. 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, 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.
Fares between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington are the same as for First Great Western services, but the single fare between Hayes and Heathrow is £6.00 as at January 2015. 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 BAA staff and West London residents for travel to Heathrow. 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 1, 2 and 3 and Terminal 4 or Terminal 5 is free.
Because the service is provided as a joint venture between First Great Western and Heathrow Express and is not subject to the usual franchising specifications, it is not obliged to provide performance statistics.
|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, the flyover will be rebuilt to overcome these limitations.
The service pattern was altered in late 2014. Monday-Saturday, Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect now both run direct to Heathrow Terminal 5, with the 'Heathrow Express shuttle' providing services to Terminal 4. On Sundays, Heathrow Express runs direct to Terminal 5 whilst Heathrow Connect provides a direct service to Terminal 4. The 'Heathrow Express shuttle' provides additional services to Terminal 4.
Heathrow Connect will be absorbed into the Crossrail service when it starts in 2019. Crossrail will extend current train paths through a central London tunnel as services to Shenfield and Abbey Wood.
Heathrow Connect has a complex operating structure. The rolling stock and on-board staff are supplied by Heathrow Airport Holdings Limited (former BAA) through the Heathrow Express company. For the portion of the journey between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington, these are leased to First Great Western 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 Limited.
|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 4
or Heathrow Terminal 5
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Heathrow Connect.|
- Official website
- Heathrow...at a price: Guardian article regarding the expensive fares on the service, which have since been reduced.