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London's new Crossrail tube service, to be formally known as the Elizabeth Line, will provide a new way for travellers to zip between Heathrow Airport and the city – but problems with a new signalling system mean you'll need to wait a few more months before you can enjoy those swish new trains.
Transport for London's original intent was for a section of the Crossrail between Paddington and Heathrow to open in May, providing some sharp competition for the airport-run Heathrow Express.
That journey would have taken 25 minutes, with only six stops between Paddington's underground station and Heathrow, where all trains will service Terminals 2 and 4 before branching off to either T4 or T5.
However, it turned out that the shiny new Crossrail carriages designed for the £14.8bn (A$27bn) project didn't communicate well with the signalling gear inside the Heathrow tunnels. Ooops.
Transport for London has now pushed back the opening of the full Paddington-Heathrow line to Q3, and in the meantime will continue to run the Heathrow Connect service (which it will take over from May 20) twice an hour.
Once the signalling kinks are ironed out later this year, the Heathrow Connect service will be axed in favour of a full Crossrail service running four of the new trainsets an hour from Paddington, which is expected to lift to six trains per hour – providing a convenient service every ten minutes – in 2019.
Each train will feature free WiFi and climate-controlled air conditioning.
Crossrail or Elizabeth Line trips to and from Heathrow will cost attract an 'airport premium' compared to the regular zone-based London underground, however.
Elizabeth Line passengers travelling between zone 1 stations in central London (such as Paddington) and Heathrow will be charged £12.10 at peak times and £10.10 off-peak.
While more than double the Tube prices of £5.10 peak and £3.10 off-peak, it's still almost half the standard £22-£25 fare of the Heathrow Express.
The staged opening of the Elizabeth Line will see trains continuing through central London's new tunnels to Abbey Wood from December 2018, and central London destinations including Bond Street, Liverpool Street and Canary Wharf (below) by December 2019.
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