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Article from BTNews 22 SEPTEMBER 2014

COMMENT: Heathrow Express and Crossrail

Last week COMMENT discussed Heathrow Express (HX) which inevitably led on to Crossrail.  Will it affect HX?  Read on.

Before we know where we are Crossrail will be with us, an attention-grabbing development that will change the face of London.  Said to be the largest engineering contract in Europe at the present time, its cost has been put at £14.8bn

When complete Heathrow travellers will have a greater public transport choice and residents of metropolitan Kent and Essex will no longer feel cut off.  Citizens of the Thames Estuary will gain their airport a lot quicker than they thought, with no negative considerations.  From 2017 sections will be introduced with the whole system operational by 2019.

Heathrow Connect becomes Crossrail with a quicker journey travel time to Paddington (23 minutes) and a new station underneath Eastbourne Terrace.  Transfer to the Bakerloo Line and the District Line should be easy, but not the misnamed Circle Line.  Some trains will terminate at Paddington Main Line.

Crossrail then goes on to Bond Street (26 minutes), Tottenham Court Road (28), Farringdon (31), Liverpool Street (34), Whitechapel (37) before it splits.  The Shenfield branch is due to open in 2017, the extension to Canary Wharf (40), Custom House (44) for Excel, and then south of the Thames via Woolwich (49) to Abbey Wood (53) for 2018.

If you know your Docklands there is one big question to be asked.  Why not a stop at London City Airport?  The tracks will pass by the former Silvertown station, which is less distance than from Heathrow Central to Terminal 2.  South of the Royal Victoria Dock there is a massive area ripe for development which would greatly benefit from the station.  Is it a question of who will pay or are there serious technical reasons?  Southend Airport station (cost said to be £30m) was mainly borne by Stobart as the developer but in this case the area investors need to chip in too.

How will Crossrail affect the Heathrow Express (HX), and travel to and from the airport to the centre of town? 

The Piccadilly Underground goes to Central and Terminals 4 and 5 and runs from Cockfosters connecting with every station on the system.  Heathrow is in zone 7 with the central London £5.70 single, and discounts.  Piccadilly Circus to the central area is 48 minutes. 

Heathrow Connect services to Paddington presently take 32 minutes.  Oyster cards and Travelcards are not valid between Hayes and Harlington and Heathrow, but can be used throughout the rest of the route.  Central to Hayes costs £5.90.  Crossrail is likely to have the same fare structure. Wi-fi for the new rolling stock has not been confirmed.

HX is just 15 minutes, although with the trains only every 15 minutes cynics might argue that it can take a fraction under half an hour.  Even so it is still far quicker than Tube or taxi, and much more comfortable.  With ‘Connect’ you have the aggravating stops.  On HX you can even use your wi-fi in the underground section.  Fares start at £21 single and £34 return.

You pay your money and you take your choice.  In marketing terms the magic world ‘Express’ works, even for the ‘Stansted Slow’.  HX does not look in danger from Crossrail (another good marketing name) but it will have to keep its wits about it.  Not everyone wants to go Paddington and the change onto Crossrail will involve walking.  Once bitten Crossrail will take some of the business.  Role on 2018.

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