Not so long ago in London you couldn’t walk to the corner store without hearing someone talk about Heathrow Express. “Fast” blah, “15 minutes to the centre of London” blah, “every 15 minutes” blah, “relaxed” blah. That is true and certainly in the almost 10 years the Heathrow Express has been running, it has been a lifeline for (mainly) business travellers using Heathrow airport.
But it should also be said it is bloody expensive, with tickets costing £15.50 ($31.50) for a single standard fare or £23.50 for first class. This officially ranks it as the most expensive ticket rate in the whole of the UK.
Which brings me to the Heathrow Connect. It also links London Paddington train station and Heathrow airport, and like the Heathrow Express, it is also owned and operated by BAA.
Introduced in 2005, the trains are less frequent (every half hour) and do stop off along the way (stations are Ealing Broadway, West Ealing, Hanwell, Southall and Hayes), but tickets cost £6.90 for a single standard ticket. Although the Heathrow Connect does not run on the same high speed line as the Express, the journey time between Heathrow 1, 2 and 3 and Paddington is still relatively quick at 28 minutes.
And since its launch in 2005, passenger numbers have exceeded all expectations with a 133% increase year on year. This fact is being celebrated with the addition of a carriage for every journey, meaning there will be an extra 15,000 seats a month and passengers are practically guaranteed a seat.