The Heathrow Express – Review
The Heathrow Express, which opened in 1998 after some five years of construction, may be one of the fastest ways to get from an outlying airport to a city center which, in this case, is London.
Backers of the project predicted that the Heathrow Express would remove as many as 3000 cars from the heavily congested M4 motorway that leads to London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR).
The overall Heathrow Express experience is superb. You can purchase your ticket on the Web or at the airport or station (£16.50 one way if purchased online, £18 from a ticket machine, £23 on board) and the entire trip takes 15 minutes (21 minutes if you are using Terminal 5).
The first train leaves Paddington Station at 5:10 a.m. and trains leave Heathrow Airport starting around the same time (the exact time varies by terminal).
If you are heading to LHR, you can check in for your flight and check your bags at Paddington Station if you are travelling via one of the 12 airlines that offer this service (the list includes Air France, American Airlines, Delta, KLM, Lufthansa, and United Airlines).
Trains are level with the platform, making it easy to enter with one’s luggage.
Simply wait for the train to arrive on the designated platform, stow your bags, and choose your seat (there are no assigned seats).
A conductor will check your ticket at some point during the trip but that is the only point at which anyone will ask you for it.
While there is a first class section which provides more legroom and complimentary newspapers and magazines, Express Class (main cabin, in airline-ese), is more than sufficient for the quick journey. Seats in Express Class were comfortable and provided more than sufficient legroom.
The Heathrow Express offers a quiet mobile phone-free section and passengers travelling in that car are also asked to use personal stereos with discretion. Express TV is turned off in these cars.
The trains have plenty of room for luggage and seats have fold-down tray tables. Toilets are plentiful
A combination safety briefing/welcome message is broadcast to each car at the start of the journey.
By the time one settles in, the journey may be halfway over. Nonetheless, travelers can sit back and watch Express TV (with news and weather information) or use the free (but slow) Wi-Fi from a notebook, netbook, or tablet computer.
The ride itself is super smooth and the train reaches the speed of 160 km/h (100 mph) when underway.
The way business travelers go to and from an airport is often done without considering the amount of carbon emissions. Travelling to and from Heathrow via the Heathrow express will unquestionably reduce the business traveler’s carbon footprint and it will also get you into town a lot faster than a taxi or private car service.
–Paul Riegler is associate editor for technology at Executive Road Warrior