BAA is in a joint venture with First Great Western to provide local trains from Paddington to Heathrow stopping at suburban stations.
First Great Western took over the Thames Trains franchise in April 2004. With the December 2004 timetable change, allowance will be made for a half-hourly stopping service between Paddington and Heathrow calling at Ealing Broadway, West Ealing, Hanwell, Southall and Hayes & Harlington. The full service (a joint venture with BAA) started on Sunday 12 June 2005.
Paths for this service (branded as Heathrow Connect in order to differentiate it from the premium Heathrow Express (HEx)) have been taken from the current Slough stopping services.
BAA has bought four new 4-car electric Siemens Desiro trains (class 360), at a cost of £23.5m. More depot capacity has been provided for them at Old Oak Common at a cost of £11.5m. An additional £15.6m order is underway in preparation for Terminal 5 - an extra car will be added to each existing train and a new 5-car train will be brought into service.
Heathrow Connect trains are not be advertised as Heathrow trains at Paddington - only at intermediate stations. In fact, there is no through fare on Heathrow Connect from Paddington to Heathrow - the only fares available are the full HEx fare or fares to/from intermediate stations.
Revenue from passengers for the portion of the service between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington goes to First Great Western Link, and the appropriate portion of fares involving the Hayes & Harlington to Heathrow section goes to BAA. BAA charges a premium fare for this section (£6). Therefore Travelcards are valid between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington, but not between Hayes & Harlington and Heathrow Central. Single fares from intermediate stations to Heathrow are priced as the standard fare to Hayes & Harlington, plus £6.
Capacity is limited on the single-track section between Heathrow Central and Terminal 4, so Connect trains terminate at Heathrow Central. (However, transfers between Central & T4 are free on HEx).
Paddington - Heathrow Central takes 25 mins on Heathrow Connect, compared to 15 mins for HEx.
When Terminal 5 opens in 2008, all Heathrow Express trains will be diverted to T5, with Heathrow Connect trains extended to T4. A half-hourly shuttle will be provided between Central and T4, alternating with Heathrow Connect trains, to maintain a 15-min frequency.
Crossrail plans to absorb Heathrow Connect, taking over its paths on the Great Western line into Paddington, and essentially extending these services to Shenfield and Abbey Wood.
The London Transport Users' Committee has welcomed the commencement of the new local Heathrow Connect service between west London suburban stations and Heathrow from 12 June, but remains unimpressed that Travelcards will not be accepted on the service.
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