Heathrow and Crossrail in legal dispute over how much TfL would have to pay to use 5 miles of track

Crossrail (the Elizabeth line) is a £15 billion train line designed to cross London from west to east, bringing relief for commuters, but it seems it may not now stop at Heathrow because of a legal row with the airport’s owners over fees. Heathrow has its lucrative Heathrow Express service runs partly on a 5-mile stretch of track, built and paid for (over £1 billion) by the airport. The Crossrail link into Heathrow would run on this section of track. It is an expensive (£25 per ticket) route, and Heathrow’s foreign owners want to recoup past spending on the private train line with an “investment recovery charge” of £570 for every train that uses the track, plus extra fees of about £107 per train.  But the Elizabeth line, by contrast, will be in line with the fares that apply across the rest of the capital’s transport network. The opening of the new Crossrail service to Terminals 1, 2, 3 and 4 is expected to throw the financial sustainability of the existing Heathrow Express into question, though Heathrow insists it would continue to run alongside the Elizabeth Line. Heathrow’s owners are now in dispute with the Office of Rail and Road, which sets track access charges, over the amount that TfL, which runs the Elizabeth Line, will need to pay to use the track. The hearings were held earlier this year and a High Court judgment is expected within weeks. 


See Crossrail (the Elizabeth line) map


Crossrail hits buffers at Heathrow

By John Collingridge (The Sunday Times)
May 21 2017,

The Heathrow Express has an exclusive deal to run services to the airport’s Terminal 5 until 2023

It’s a £15bn train line designed to span London from west to east, bringing much needed relief for commuters — yet Crossrail services may not now stop at Heathrow because of a legal row with the airport’s owners.

The lucrative Heathrow Express service runs partly on a five-mile stretch of track built by the airport for more than £1bn. But the £25-a-passenger service will be upended by the arrival of Crossrail next year.

Full Sunday Times article at 



Crossrail and Heathrow in legal dispute over fees

New Elizabeth line will undercut prices of £25 Heathrow Express service

By Gill Plimmer (Financial Times)


A plan for London’s new £15bn Crossrail line to stop at Heathrow airport when the service fully opens next year may be derailed by a legal dispute over fees.

The Elizabeth line, as it has been named, will run from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

Part of the line will run on track built by Heathrow’s owners, which include the Spanish construction company Ferrovial, plus sovereign wealth funds Qatar Holding and China Investment Corp, who use it for the premium £25-a-trip Heathrow Express service.


The ORR said: “In May 2016, taking into account representations and evidence from affected parties, including considerable documentation and submissions from Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL), we decided HAL is not permitted to introduce all of its proposed new charges for train operators to use its track, which links Heathrow Airport to the Great Western main line.”

Transport for London, the Department for Transport and Crossrail declined to comment.

….. Full FT article at





Sunday Times reports that Heathrow wants to recoup its Crossrail costs by extra charges for passengers

The Crossrail link to Heathrow is due to open by the end of 2019, and it is expected that this will cut the travel time from Liverpool Street station to Heathrow from 55 minutes to 34 minutes. Heathrow built and paid for a 5.3 mile long stretch of line linking its terminals with the main line to Paddington station. But the Sunday Times reports that now Heathrow wants to recoup the cost of building this stretch of line, which was completed almost 20 years ago, from users of Crossrail. The DfT estimates that meeting Heathrow’s claim could add over £40m on to the annual cost of running Crossrail. The DfT believes Heathrow should not get this money back. If Heathrow gets its way, rail passengers would have to pay inflated prices to travel to Heathrow. Transport for London (TfL), which will oversee Crossrail, will have to decide whether to claw back the cost through ticket prices on the line, or spread it across the whole of London’s transport network. Heathrow says it paid over £1 billion for the tracks, trains and depots, and to get this back, it wants a fee of £597, plus a maintenance charge of £138, to be paid by Crossrail every time one of its trains uses the line. Heathrow also owns Heathrow Express, Britain’s most expensive train service (£26.50 from Paddington to Heathrow). The decision on any financial deal will be in the hands of the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).




Taxpayers to cover Heathrow’s £160 million contribution to Crossrail – CAA claims Heathrow doesn’t need more passengers coming by rail

Plans for the £14.8 billion Crossrail line across London originally envisaged – in 2008 – a £230 million contribution from Heathrow, to reflect the benefit it is expected to gain from the link to central London, Maidenhead, and Brentwood. But now it emerges that the taxpayer must cover a £160 million shortfall, which Heathrow will now not pay. Now Heathrow will only pay £70 million.  [Heathrow is pushing hard for a 3rd runway – surely if it got that, it would  need all the rail  passengers from Crossrail that it can get]. The CAA has said that with the airport already running at or near capacity, (it is not at capacity for terminal space, only runway space) Crossrail would deliver no net benefit in terms of additional passengers. After the CAA set aside a provisional pot of £100 million to pay towards Crossrail, the DfT lowered its proposal to £137 million, and now down to £70 million. The National Audit Office said the shortfall means that the DfT’s contribution to the project will rise from £4.8 billion to almost £5 billion; but this remains inside the £5.2 billion set aside in case it failed to secure sufficient funding from private sources. Crossrail is now half built and is due to open by December 2019. It will run from Maidenhead, via Heathrow, out to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east.





Britain’s biggest airport accused of demanding £677 every time a train arrives


Plans to build a third runway at Heathrow could be jeopardised by a row between the airport’s owners and Transport for London (TfL).

Heathrow Terminals 2, 3 and 4 are expected to be served by the new east-west line, which is due to open between central London and the airport in May 2018.

But Heathrow is demanding a heavy price from the capital’s transport users, in order to pay back the estimated £1bn cost of the rail link. The privately funded Heathrow Express spur from the Great Western line opened in 1998.

The Office of Rail and Road said that Heathrow could not recoup the historical costs of the link, a decision that the airport then asked to be judicially reviewed. A judgment is expected shortly.

If the ruling is in favour of Heathrow, TfL may opt not to serve the airport at all — which would throw into doubt predictions of the proportion of passengers using public transport if a third runway is built.

The National Policy Statement on expanding Heathrow requires that “access to the airport by road, rail and public transport is high quality, efficient and reliable for both passengers and airport workers”.

The Government is committed to maximising the number of journeys made to airports by sustainable modes of transport.

TfL initially plans to run trains four times an hour between Paddington (National Rail) and Heathrow Terminal 4, serving Terminals 2 and 3 along the way, and replacing the existing Heathrow Connect.

One of Crossrail’s selling points has been easy access to Heathrow from east London and the City, as well as Luton and Gatwick airports with a single change at Farringdon.

Once the full service is up and running in 2019, travellers are promised: “The journey time from London Heathrow to the City of London (Liverpool Street) will fall from 55 to 34 minutes.”

But the new link puts the appeal of the Heathrow Express — the existing non-stop service to Paddington — in doubt.

While it still has a time advantage, and will be the only link running to Terminal 5, the Express’s premium price of £25 one-way at peak time may deter some users when a low-cost, high-quality service that goes deeper into London is available.

If TfL decides not to serve Heathrow at all, it is conceivable that passengers could still reach it by changing at Hayes & Harlington to a separate shuttle service. But as well as making the journey more cumbersome for travellers with heavy baggage, it could require them to buy an additional ticket — currently costing £6.30 one way.

While Heathrow’s Underground stations are part of the TfL zonal system, the rail links are not.

A spokesperson for Heathrow told The Independent; “We are committed to increasing public transport to Heathrow and look forward to the arrival of Crossrail in May 2018.

“We need to ensure that track access charges are fair and are waiting on a ruling from the courts on whether the regulations apply and if so, their correct application to costs.”

Heathrow is also intended to be connected to the new High Speed 2 rail link from London to Birmingham via a new station at Old Oak Common in west London.

Without straightforward, low-cost rail links, more airline passengers may opt to go by road to Heathrow — adding to pollution, congestion and noise.

….. and it continues  …..