World’s first Personal Rapid Transit System bursts onto scene at Heathrow

9.7.2009   (BAA press release)

At Heathrow the world’s first Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system reached a significant
milestone this week as the system was officially handed over from construction
to operational testing on Tuesday.

The event was marked with the vehicle bursting through a paper screen before
parking itself in the dedicated bay.

Workers on the innovative £25 million project assembled at the PRT station in
the Terminal 5 business car park to celebrate the next step in the project as
it moves from construction to operational testing.

John Holland Kaye, Commercial Director, and Graham Bradburn, Chief Executive
of Advanced Transport Systems, the company which designed the system, thanked
the teams for their hard work.

When the system is launched, passengers will board PRT vehicles at one of three
stations and select their chosen destination using a touch screen. The programmed
vehicle immediately takes them directly to their destination, at speeds up to
40kph, without the need for any stops in between. The journey time from the Terminal
5 business car park to Terminal 5 will be around five minutes.

PRT is a world first and is being trialled at Heathrow to make passenger journeys
quicker and reduce congestion on airport roads. Operational testing will now begin
on the system, ensuring that PRT is fully integrated into Heathrow’s infrastructure.
The vehicles will operate from the Terminal 5 business car park and transport
passengers to the main terminal building.

John Holland-Kaye commented: “I am excited about the trialling of Personal Rapid
Transit at Heathrow and am proud of the dedicated work of staff to deliver this
pioneering project. Today marks a big step forward and the team will now focus
on operational testing, with vehicles becoming a familiar sight along the guideway
during this process.

“When launched, the PRT trial will offer an exciting, quick and environmentally
friendly option for passengers travelling from the business car park to Terminal

Graham Bradburn said: “Today marks the beginning of bringing the working system
to life, as operational testing starts. It is hard to overplay the significance
of reaching this stage in the project. It is the physical manifestation of many
years work for ATS and BAA, and represents the vision of the original individuals

“I would like to thank all of those companies and individuals, clients and suppliers
alike, as well as our own staff, for the fantastic efforts they have made to make
this a reality.”

The Heathrow PRT system consists of a fleet of 21 low-energy, battery-powered,
driverless vehicles capable of carrying around four passengers and their luggage,
travelling along a dedicated guideway.  

It generates zero local emissions and will be typically 50% more energy-efficient
than traditional buses. This will bring significant environmental improvements
and will help to reduce congestion on airport roads.

Watch a video showing how Heathrow’s PRT system will look


link to press release