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TODAY’S THE DAY: Take a direct Elizabeth line train from Heathrow to central London

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It may have taken a large proportion of my lifetime to build, but today is the day that you can finally take an Elizabeth line train directly from Heathrow Airport to central London.

You can also travel directly from Heathrow through the centre to Abbey Wood. What you CANNOT do without a change of train is travel from Heathrow to Shenfield, although you can now travel from Paddington to Shenfield direct.

Today is also the first day that full Sunday services are running, and also sees increased frequencies between Paddington and Whitechapel.

Elizabeth Line open direct to Heathrow

To quote the official TfL press release:

  • customers travelling from Reading and Heathrow are now able to travel east all the way to Abbey Wood without needing to change at Paddington mainline station
  • customers travelling from Shenfield will be able to travel west all the way to Paddington without needing to change at Liverpool Street mainline station
  • journeys from the east to destinations beyond Paddington, including towards Heathrow or Reading, will be possible by changing trains and waiting on the same platform at any central London Elizabeth line station for the next direct train. Given the layout of the station, changing trains at Whitechapel is likely to be easiest for customers.

TfL claims that:

People landing at Heathrow Airport will now be able to travel straight through central London on a direct train to areas such as Farringdon and Canary Wharf in as little as 36 and 45 minutes respectively at weekends and 40 and 51 minutes respectively during the week.

Customers will also able to use the Elizabeth line seven days a week following the start of Sunday services through central London. The frequency of services in the central section between Paddington and Whitechapel has increased from 12 trains per hour all day to up to 22 trains per hour in peak times and 16 trains per hour during off-peak.

The full peak timetable, which will see 24 trains per hour during the peak between Paddington and Whitechapel, is on track to be in place by May 2023. 

Elizabeth line route

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

“I’m delighted that from Sunday people will be able to benefit from fast and direct Elizabeth line services into central London, seven days a week. This development is a huge moment for the capital’s connectivity, revolutionising the way we travel across London, allowing people to travel from Stratford in the east of London to Paddington in the west of London in just 19 minutes, and Ealing Broadway to Canary Wharf in just over 30 minutes.

“Services running on Sundays through central London will make thousands of journeys quicker, easier and more comfortable. Now services from outside London are connected with the stations in centre of the capital, people can be quickly transported on the Elizabeth line all the way through the city.

This new stage of the Elizabeth line will bring a huge boost to our city – including encouraging people to make the most of the capital and will help support businesses in the heart of our city. I’m so proud of this transformational addition to our public transport network. The Elizabeth line is helping to build a better London – a fairer, greener and more prosperous city for all Londoners.”

Elizabeth Line open direct to Heathrow

What are the Heathrow timings?

When it comes to Heathrow, there will be six trains per hour.

All six will serve Terminals 2 & 3, whilst four will continue on to Terminal 4. Just two trains per hour – one every 30 minutes – will operate to Terminal 5.

(EDIT: the comments below imply that it is only four per hour – two to T5 and two to T4 – until next Spring.)

This is a blow to British Airways although better than planned given that running to Terminal 5 was never part of the original plan for Crossrail. Still, with many more passengers travelling from Terminal 5 versus Terminal 4 it doesn’t make a huge amount of sense.

A trip from Heathrow to Farringdon will cost between £10.70 and £12.70. This is thanks to a £7.20 ‘Heathrow premium’ charge that TFL is charging over Piccadilly Line fares, in part to pay for access to Heathrow’s rail tunnels which are owned by the airport. It is worth adding a Railcard to your Oyster Card, if you have one, to get a 33% discount on off-peak fares.

Given that the Head for Points office is only a couple of minutes from Liverpool Street, we are obviously keen to try out the new through service to Heathrow as soon as we can. Look out for a report.

Comments (161)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Graham says:

    I was at Heathrow T3 station and asked a member of staff for the best way to get to Hammersmith. They directed me to the Elizabeth line to Paddington then a tube from Paddington back to Hammersmith. The journey alone on my credit card for the Paddington part of the journey was £25. I returned from Hammersmith that evening on the tube alone and paid £5.70 for the complete journey. I would advise everybody to be very careful using the Elizabeth line. Check prices first.

    • bsuije says:

      That £25 sounds suspiciously like a single Heathrow Express ticket…

    • Londonsteve says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if TFL staff are requested by management to advise use of the EL for all stations east of Acton Town and HEX staff will, as expected, advise use of HEX in ALL circumstances.

    • Muzer says:

      You should have paid £12.80 if you really went on the Elizabeth Line and not the Heathrow Express… Did it stop anywhere between Heathrow and Paddington? If not, that was the Heathrow Express and you were charged correctly.

  • cinereus says:

    I didn’t know you can add a railcard to an oyster card. Is there any way to add a railcard if you use your phone for TFL?

    • Rhys says:

      I don’t think so, which is why I have an Oyster card

    • Muzer says:

      No, contactless payments still don’t support railcards. Note that for loading railcards onto Oysters only the ones valid for individual travel without fare caps are accepted – so 16-25, 36-30, senior, disabled person’s, HM Forces, Veterans, and annual gold cards. Notably Network Railcards are NOT eligible to be loaded onto Oyster cards, as they have a minimum fare which the Oyster system is not set up to work with.

  • Peter says:

    I actually need to get from Heathrow to Abbey Woods tonight. Direct train £12.80 for about 90m journey. From Hatton Cross picadilly, central and then Elisabeth for £3.40 for 95 mins journey. Tfl pricing no longer makes sense..

    • David Starkie says:

      You are paying for superior quality of the EL and cutting out need for change.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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