Is this the end of the line for the Heathrow Express?

London has one of the best public transport systems in the world. But anyone who’s spent a hot, sticky journey on the coach to Luton Airport or faced a long meandering trundle down the Piccadilly Line stressing about making a flight at Heathrow knows that travelling to the capital’s airports can be a trying experience. 

That’s where the Heathrow Express comes in: the Uber executive of train journeys, the snazzy express service whisks passengers from Paddington Station to Heathrow Airport in just 15 minutes, making it the fastest direct rail route between central London and the UK’s biggest airport. But there’s a hefty price to pay for the speedy journey. The Heathrow Express is the second most expensive rail journey in Britain, costing £25, or £1.50 per mile for the 16.5-mile trip. This didn’t stop the Heathrow Express from generating a whopping £31 million in revenue in the first quarter of 2019, with people opting to pay a premium for stress-free travel. But things might be about to change for the high-speed service. 

According to reports seen by The Times, the opening of the Elizabeth Line appears to have made a dent in the Express’s revenues. Heathrow Express’s passenger numbers apparently haven’t returned to pre-pandemic levels despite flights at the airport being pretty much back to normal. Heathrow said revenues from Heathrow Express in the first three months of 2023 were at £22 million – a third less than during the first quarter of 2019.

The new Lizzy Line gets you to Heathrow’s terminals in around half an hour and, most importantly, costs around half the price of the Express – very welcome news in a cost-of-living crisis. 

Heathrow told The Times that other factors including a rise in the number of people travelling for leisure instead of business who were more likely to travel by TfL services also affected revenues, but were ‘confident’ the service would recover in the coming months. With passengers feeling the pinch of the cozzy livs and future strike action on the horizon for Heathrow Airport, only time will tell what the future holds for the service.

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