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Heathrow Express launches its new fleet of old trains

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Heathrow Express has finally launched its new rolling stock after several Covid and non-Covid related delays. All of the old trains have now left service.

Despite their impeccable interiors, the existing Heathrow Express trains were 22 years old.  More importantly, they lacked compatibility with the new Crossrail signalling systems.

GWR, which now runs the service under contract to Heathrow, has refurbished some existing Electrostar trains.  These trains were built in 2015 to 2017 and became surplus to requirements due to delayed electrification projects and other rolling stock purchases.

The 12 new trains also have regenerative braking, which makes them more efficient by using the electric drivetrain as a generator when slowing down. The excess electricity is then fed back into the overhead power grid.

Heathrow Express Business First

Business First remains

As before, the trains feature two classes: Express Class and Business First, with the latter coming with extra legroom and a work table.

The only downside is that the new Business First configuration is denser at 2-1 rather than 1-1. 2-1 is pretty standard for First Class on trains these days though, so we can’t really complain.

Heathrow Express Business First

There is more space for wheelchair users and double the number of toilets in case nature calls on the 15 minute trip to or from Paddington.

Heathrow Express Wheelchair Access

Like many new trains, the Class 387 Heathrow Express trains feature a continuous gangway rather than individual carriages.

More screens will show live flight and rail connections as well as daily news highlights and shopping deals at Heathrow and there will be USB sockets in addition to normal power outlets which should be more useful for international travellers.

Heathrow Express luggage rack

Heathrow Express is currently operating two trains per hour. In the coming months it is hoping to ramp back up to four, with a departure every fifteen minutes.

Prices start from £5.50 one way for a single advanced ticket with fully refundable flex tickets in Express and Business First starting at £22 and £32 one way. This article looks at how you can get a discount on Heathrow Express tickets and earn Avios on your purchases.

Remember that, if you have Star Alliance Gold status – perhaps via the current TAP Portugal status match – you get a free upgrade to First Class on Heathrow Express.

We’ll be back with a review when things get moving again …. in the meantime, you can book on the Heathrow Express website here.

Comments (17)

  • Richard Young says:

    “Despite their impeccable interiors…” I’d politely beg to differ, the quality of the old trains was horrible – the headrests were fast becoming more brown than yellow and purple!

    • Tim says:

      A lack of compatibility with the Crossrail signalling system is not the whole reason they are being withdrawn. Their Electrostar replacements will need new hardware installed to enable them to talk to the Crossrail signalling system. That hardware could just have easily be installed into the existing HEx trains. It just makes more sense to invest in this work on a fleet that still has 20+ years of life in it which the Siemens HEx trains certainly don’t They have serious corrosion-related structural issues below the floor which caused them to be temporality withdrawn about 5 years ago. The structural problems were never properly resolved, the fix was merely to try and slow down the rust and introduce a more frequent inspection regime. For this reason and the fact that they lack the TPWS safety system which they would need to run on any other part of the system (the route to Heathrow has ATP fitted and therefore a TPWS derogation) they are being cut up for scrap after barely more than 20 years service – so much for German engineering excellence!

  • Rjn21 says:

    Does BA GGL still give a free upgrade to “first”? It was always a bit vague, although it does still show up on a google search on BA’s site but I could never find a link to it from within the site itself.

  • Save East Coast Rewards says:

    No mention of the ironing board seats that are in standard class? You can see them on the HEX website if you look at the images on this page https://www.heathrowexpress.com/newfleet

    At least on the old trains you felt you were getting something premium for the expensive fare.

    Original HEX first class was 2-1, it was changed to 1-1 in a refurb about 10 years ago. Always seemed odd that probably the shortest first class train route in the UK was also the most spacious.

  • Lumma says:

    Heathrow Express will be completely pointless when Crossrail finally opens. I guess it’ll remain like Gatwick Express, despite Southern going the same way with just one or two stops or Thameslink going to far more destinations, for far less money just to fleece those that don’t know better

    • ChrisBCN says:

      Completely pointless FOR YOU….

      Sure I would expect passengers to drop a fair whack, but there will still be some.

      • Martin Louis says:

        Yeah, those poor jet lagged fools that come off a flight and get harassed by “street sellers” and pay the full fare. And those that are cutting really fine and 15 minutes difference could be the difference between catching a flight or not.

        Anyone not time sensitive and plans will avoid the HEX.

  • Nick says:

    Have they definitely got ‘continuous gangways’? No other 387 has them, including these ones before conversion to HEx… would surprise me massively if that had been part of the conversion works as it would have meant cutting off some of the carriage!

    • Rhys says:

      That’s what we were told!

      • Dave says:

        Assuming the inter unit gangway is open for public use that’ll be what they mean. On the old trains you were stuck in the unit you boarded. In the new trains you can walk right through to any part of the train.

    • The Urbanite says:

      Each carriage is separated by a set of doors, but you can walk though the length of the train. Not much fun with suitcases though!

  • Max says:

    It will be interesting to see how many passengers Heathrow Express gets once Crossrail is fully operational.

  • AndrewS says:

    Operated by GWR… The Godawful Worsening Railway… standby for a creeping decline in the quality of service for the Heathrow Express!!

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