Heathrow Express provides a premium service, non-stop high-speed rail link between Paddington station and Heathrow Airport
With 150 services running every day and a journey time of 15 minutes, it is the fastest way to travel between Central London and the UK’s biggest hub airport.
The company’s electric trains carry 16,000 passengers daily and in the summer of 2017 it celebrated carrying a hundred million passengers with 2018 another celebratory year as it marked its 20th anniversary.
Heathrow Express is operated by the Heathrow Express Operating Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Heathrow Airport Holdings. It is a non-franchised, non-subsidised private company which owns its own trains, the stations at Heathrow, and the entire below ground section of the line between London Paddington and the airport.
Heathrow Express strives to provide excellent service to customers and supports Heathrow Airport’s mission of providing international passengers with the best airport experience in the world. 2017’s Spring National Rail Passenger Survey results proved that Heathrow Express was succeeding in its aims: not only did it outperform all other London train companies, but it outperformed every other airport express service.
It achieved the equal best satisfaction score in the UK with an overall satisfaction rate of 97 per cent which was six per cent higher than its score in 2016. It also garnered a 96 per cent satisfaction rate for punctuality and high scores for cleanliness inside the train and outside the train which received 96 per cent and 98 per cent respectively.
As the Heathrow Express is owned by the airport there are advantages in terms of cooperation. Trains run every 15 minutes with the journey between London Paddington and Heathrow terminals one and two taking 15 minutes.
Virgin Atlantic rolled out Wi-Fi across its entire fleet towards the end of 2017, allowing passengers on board the flights arriving into Heathrow to access the Heathrow Express website for free to buy tickets onboard. Fraser Brown, Director of Heathrow Express, said: ‘We are delighted to be working with Virgin Atlantic to be able to offer their passengers the chance to easily purchase tickets in-flight, so they can enjoy a seamless journey from plane to train and into central London.’
While Heathrow Express was the first train company to launch e-ticketing for customers to buy tickets online, its most high profile technological innovations over the past two years have been the creation and production of the world’s first dynamic screens, installed in the baggage reclaim zones at Heathrow Airport.
First introduced in 2015, they combine live real-time data feeds from TomTom, Google, the Highways Agency, the Met Office and Heathrow Express’s timetable. These data feeds are then combined into a user-friendly data feed or ‘journey comparison generator’ to help customers make the fastest and cheapest choice of onward travel.
These screens won a number of awards in 2015 and in 2016 Heathrow Express upgraded the screens by translating them into six languages – German, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, Cantonese and Finnish.
With a direct link to Heathrow airport’s air traffic control and baggage carousel assignment for each flight, the ad campaign now rotates through both English and the arriving flight’s language at just the right time when passengers arrive to pick up their bags. The service, which currently uses the top languages spoken by Heathrow Express passengers, was monitored and reviewed and more languages were added in 2017.
The Heathrow Express team has also been focussed on making booking a Heathrow Express ticket simple and quick and has been using solutions via XML technology in order to achieve this goal.
The Heathrow Express commercial team has been particularly keen to ensure the TOC’s tickets were easy and quick to book for travel agents and those booking corporate travel. This technology means Heathrow Express tickets can be integrated into airline booking platforms.
This system makes it easy for customers booking an airline ticket to book their onward journey – as the option is built into the booking platform. Currently, PortmanOne, Aer Lingus, Rail Europe and Visit Britain are using this tool. This is also a great way to achieve integration with Airline and Travel providers’ mobile technology. In short, the benefits of using XML technology are:
• It is quick and easy for agents and travel management companies to process requests and book tickets
• It reduces cost
• It provides greater choice for customers on how to transfer to and from Heathrow.
Managing Director: Les Freer
Head of Operations: Sophie Chapman
Head of Pricing and Technology: Karan Suri
Head of Engineering: Stephen Head
Head of Commercial: Chris Crauford
Head of Finance: Mick Leyden