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Major Crossrail changes as Terminal 5 gets included – and HEx joins Oyster PAYG

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Crossrail (aka the Elizabeth Line) runs directly past our office here at Moorgate and we have the daily joy of finding our way through the maze of closed streets.  My wife has it even worse – her office, which used to overlook the park which was Finsbury Circus, has overlooked a massive tunnelling site for the last five years.

What made all this disruption worse was the knowledge that Crossrail was not going to serve Heathrow Terminal 5.  The original plans, which you can see below, have trains branching off the mainline to Terminal 2/3 and then on to Terminal 4:

Crossrail map 2

Terminal 5 was going to require a change of train at Terminal 4 – despite the fact that Terminal 5 actually has an unused train station built into it.  I thought this was quite a serious business risk for British Airways, since a flight from Terminal 2 suddenly looked a lot more attractive than a flight from Terminal 5.

Heathrow announced yesterday that there has been a major last minute rethink.

Starting in 2019, there will be two Crossrail trains per hour running to Terminal 5.

In total, there will be 22 trains per hour from Central London to the airport.  In theory we could make it in 35 minutes from our office to Terminal 5.  This will comprise:

6 Piccadilly Line trains serving Terminals 2/3 and Terminal 4

6 Piccadilly Line trains serving Terminal 5 and Terminals 2/3

4 Elizabeth Line trains serving Terminals 2/3 and Terminal 4

2 Elizabeth Line trains serving Terminals 2/3 and Terminal 5

4 Heathrow Express serving Terminals 2/3 and Terminal 5

Discussions are underway on ways of creating additional train paths to allow a total of four Crossrail trains per hour to serve Terminal 5.  This is unlikely to be solved in the short term, however.

In other Heathrow rail news …..

From March 2018, Heathrow Express will become part of the Oyster payment system.  Anyone with a pay-as-you-go Oyster card will be able to touch in at Paddington or Heathrow.  You will also be able to pay using a contactless credit or debit card.

Don’t get too excited – fares aren’t going to get any cheaper.  You just won’t need to fiddle around with your credit card at the ticket machines.

Comments (67)

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  • RTS says:

    Cant wait for Xrail to come soon enough. It will literally cut my journey time from SE London to LHR in half!

  • Alex W says:

    What about getting to LHR from West of England. Will we still have to change at Paddington? This is a pain and driving is usually the best option at the moment.

    • Nick says:

      1. You don’t have to go to Paddington, there’s a frequent railair coach from Reading station forecourt, integrated in the rail ticketing scheme.
      2. With Crossrail you can change at Hayes. Same as now but hopefully a bit more convenient with better connections. Will still be faster on the GWR train though, assuming they do stop at Hayes (the plan keeps changing).
      3. At some time in the future (2023 apparently, but you know what UK infrastructure programmes are like) there will be a direct rail link to Heathrow from the mainline at Iver. Then there will be local trains from Reading straight to T5. These will use the ‘secret’ T5 platforms – they were designed for a SWT link via Staines but that won’t happen because the Richmond/Mortlake poshos went up in arms over the impact on their local roads (there are lots of level crossings on their line which would be down most of the time).

      • Alex W says:

        There is already an excellent direct national express coach service, which much cheaper than the train. But if you’re tight for time then it’s got to be car. Train then bus from reading I can’t see solving that problem.

  • Paul says:

    Interesting how only Heathrow have so far announced this, AFAIK TfL has announced a feasibility study into the 2 extra trains to T5.

    The Elizabeth Line is taking over the connect, hence why ‘only’ going to T4, and then once the whole route opens up in 2019, there is the possibility that TfL will close the T4 Underground Station to save costs when it has another service to the same terminal.

    • Aeronaut says:

      First time I’ve come across the suggestion that the T4 Picadilly line tube station and service might close.

  • Paulm says:

    OT – Norwegian starting Chicago and Austin next year from Gatwick. More competition for BA!

    • AVM says:

      Austin? That is the best news of the day! Do you know when?

      • Paulm says:

        March, 3 x weekly

      • AVM says:

        Found it – end of March 2018. DId a dummy booking – low Fare + is 520£ (+ CC fee). Not cheap at all…

        • Anna says:

          That is Easter though, so price probably inflated accordingly.

          • Lumma says:

            It’s “from £235 one way” to Austin + £100 return ìf you want to pick a seat, gave something to eat and check a bag.

            What’s always annoyed me about Norwegian is that it’s no cheaper if you just want the seat selection and food. Couldn’t care less about checked luggage personally, but it would still cost £50 each way

  • Nick Burch says:

    OT Tesco Clubcard changes coming! 3x value on Uber and, not sure about Avios?

    • Rob says:

      Wow, very interesting.

    • Anna says:

      Let’s just hope they don’t use the BA concept of “enhancements”…

      • the real harry1 says:

        I’m more positive than that – whilst Uber means nothing to me, I think it’s a good sign that Tesco marketing bods are looking at ways to keep Clubcard salient

    • Matt says:

      A bit less interesting than it looks with – non-refundable voucher, so makes flexible bookings inflexible, and no rewards on stays booked using the clubcard vouchers. Might still be worthwhile vs redeeming for avios, but not obviously better.

  • Paulm says:

    Another OT – virgin trains will now only earn 1 virgin flying club point per £ spent (currently 2)

  • Andy says:

    Once crossrail starts will people still use HEX?

    The time saved on HEW will be lost in changing trains at Paddington. While Crossrail will take you direct to the West End, City, Canary wharf etc

  • Richard says:

    I think this is wrong Re. Oyster – I believe oyster will work for Heathrow connect by 2018 (which cross rail will replace), but Heathrow express will continue to need a ticket purchased

    • Quark999 says:

      Yes, I don’t think Heathrow EXPRESS will gain Oyster, but Heathrow CONNECT. This is because next year will see phase 2 of Crossrail, which is TFL taking over the Connect Service from GWR, just like has happened on the Eastern Branch. Both will continue to be known as “TFL Rail” until the tunnel opens. And because they are TFL services you can use Oyster on them. HEx will remain Heathrow’s for a good while longer.

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