Heathrow Express upgrades its high speed 15-minute ride

The fastest way to get from London's Heathrow Airport to Paddington is about to get a little more comfy, too.

By David Flynn, March 2 2020
Heathrow Express upgrades its high speed 15-minute ride

London's Heathrow Expressis getting more luggage space, more AC/USB power sockets, better WiFi and new seats in the first class 'Business First' carriages.

Even the trains themselves will be somewhat 'new', being refurbished Electrostar sets built in 2015-2017 and previously used on Great Western Railway commuter services.

Their £11m make-over is intended to provide a 'bespoke experience for air travellers' which is a little closer to the airport experience itself, Heathrow Express promises.

Rolling out on the dedicated Heathrow-Paddington service from mid-2020, the fresh-faced cars will include AC/USB power outlets at every seat – handy for a quick top-up on the 15 minute journey – along with more luggage space.

The free 4G-based WiFi service will be an extension of that offered by Heathrow Airport itself, so that passengers won't need to sign on twice – once at the airport, and again on the train – with seamless connection "from (airport) gate to Paddington or vice versa”, says Chris Crauford, Head of Commercial at Heathrow Express.

New reclining seats wrapped in a deeply-padded tweed fabric (above) will adorn the first class carriages, although the seating layout will change from the current 1-1 configuration to a slightly less exclusive 2-1.

There'll also be what looks like smaller tables in first class.

Free upgrades from standard economy 'Express' class to Business First class remain available for travellers holding Star Alliance Gold or British Airways Executive Club Gold Guest List (GGL) status – just settle yourself into the Business First carriage and when the conductor passes through, show your Express ticket and your frequent flyer card or smartphone app.

The Heathrow Express carries around 18,000 people each day, with the 'new' fleet replacing the original carriages which have been in service for the 22 years since the high-speed service launched in 1998, and adding compatibility with the new Crossrail signalling systems.

One-way fares on the Heathrow Express cost £22-25 when bought on the day of travel, although prices fall to as low as £5.50 if booked online at least 90 days in advance.

Heathrow Express also plans to partner with a taxi service from Paddington, which can be pre-booked when purchasing the railway ticket to offer travellers a complete 'end to end' journey.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

13 Feb 2015

Total posts 68

No USB-C sockets for a 2020 refurb? Oh dear...

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 155

It's always nice to get a fresh, refurbished cabin (on a plane or train), even if the changes are actually minimal.

My LHR arrivals are always around 6am or so. Out of habit, I used to catch the Heathrow Express to Paddington, then haul myself upstairs to the taxi queue and spend more money on the fare to Kensington. Until one day, a cabbie told me it should cost no more catching a cab (there are plenty) at Heathrow and going direct to Kensington, instead of doing the 'transfer' at Paddington (hauling luggage, battling thru crowds, waiting in the taxi queue). He was absolutely right! My entire journey now only takes around 20 mins instead of up to an hour; I avoid the Paddington madhouse, and the fare is more or less the same/reasonable. For me, the taxi option in the early morning is fuss free and a no-brainer instead of the Heathrow Express. It pays to do your research instead of just blindly sticking to the same routine, over and over.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

08 Jun 2018

Total posts 92

Couldn't agree with this more. The fares for the Heathrow express are a disgrace. In an era when we are supposed to encourage public transport where possible, to charge what they do is absurd. If you look at the price of a taxi and compare the convenience why wouldn't you do that. And if it's more than one traveller then even more so.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 341

The most expensive railway line in Europe when the cost is broken down into miles travelled.

08 Feb 2018

Total posts 144

Love “arriving” in London at Paddington Station rather than Heathrow....feels like you've actually arrived!

British Airways - Executive Club

23 Mar 2018

Total posts 14

You could say the same about the airport line in Sydney. It's not even an express service and yet costs so much. For more than one person travelling from the city to the airport, a taxi is usually cheaper. As Ourmanin says, we are supposed to live in an era that promotes public transport use where possible....

18 Nov 2015

Total posts 117

Heathrow Express tickets purchased well in advance are £5.50 each way.

For example, I just did a search on the Heathrow Express app for a return in July (in on Monday, out on Friday) and it was £11 return.

Buy ticket on app.

Happy times.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

20 Dec 2013

Total posts 33

I jump on the Piccadilly Line tube and use the savings on a couple of pints of beer!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Jun 2012

Total posts 58

Yes, Paddington is awful if you have luggage (so many steps!) so it's the Piccadilly line for me. Transfer at Green Park to Victoria.

18 Nov 2015

Total posts 117

Not sure what steps you're talking about?

Just take the main exit out onto Praed St (up a slightly inclined road) for 100 metres, cross the road over to London St where you can meet your Uber or Kapten ride.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Jun 2012

Total posts 58

Perhaps I'm an idiot but I've never found a way around Paddington that doesn't involve hauling my bag up and down stairs.

I will never use Uber. Ever. I now live in the UK so it is either the Tube or a black cab.

18 Nov 2015

Total posts 117

Ok -- then I'm not sure we're talking about the same Paddington station then. The main (only) huge big entrance to the station has no steps -- only a short lane (about 100m) on a slight incline leading up to Praed Street.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Jun 2012

Total posts 58

I see the issue. I only transfer within Paddington, usually connecting to the Victoria or Circle Lines, and never exit at street level. I may have to try that and grab a black cab, although it sort of defeats the purpose of staying out of traffic.

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 185

While the 'walk on' fares are pretty steep it's like almost any travel based system these day - book online, well in advance and you get far cheaper fares. I paid £5.50 for my one way ticket the other week! Leave it to the day, and you'll get hit in the face (and no different if you do the same with a plane ticket or hotel booking).

I'm sorry but the Sydney 'Airportlink' is more shoddy value for money in my opinion than the Heathrow Express will ever be. AU16 for some crappy old commuter train. For a distance of 8km!! I won't even go down the path of lack of wifi, power ports etc, but not even stuff as basic as luggage racks. Why? Because it's basically a commuter train that hits you in the wallet for getting on at airport stations.

If you are dumb, yeah you'll get hit in the wallet on the Heathrow Express as well. If you are smart you'll book online early, get a decent deal for a non stop high speed service that covers 25km in 15 min in clean purpose built trains with all the mod cons.

If you can't book in advance unlike in Sydney no one is forcing you to fork up for Heathrow Express fares. There's the Heathrow Connect which runs along the same track but stops a few times and takes around 22min. Or the good ol' tube.

It really amazes me how us aussies can diss public transport options from foreign airports when look at our home turf. All the airports are a disgrace when it comes to this area!

28 Sep 2018

Total posts 13

I always use Heathrow Express and booking in advance saves money as you usually know which days you are flying and you can choose any train peak or off peak. I stay at the Hilton which is so easy or if you have a budget, Hotel Indigo or other hotels in Praed Street or Sussex Gardens and no steps by the side road as traveller99 says.

Only problem is flying in and out of Terminal 4 (say for Qatar) as the displays tell you its only 5 minutes by connecting train from Terminal 3. BUT the connecting train is the old (and it was old) Heathrow Connect stopping service from Paddington and only runs every 30 minutes. I rushed for a Heathrow Express from Paddington, only to sit on Terminal 3 platform for 25 minutes (and watching the next Heathrow Express train arrive) for the connection.

28 Sep 2018

Total posts 13

Just read Cooper81's comments about Aussie airport transport. Well said.

Ever tried getting to Perth airport by bus? A stopping service every 30 minutes.

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