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Author Topic: Crossrail to replace Heathrow Express services to Heathrow - ongoing discussion  (Read 11813 times)
a-driver
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« on: November 09, 2014, 09:59:56 am »

The proper solution, if ever it could be achieved, would be to offload those travelling those 36 onto other services....

The only real solution is to cut the HEx services from one every 15 minutes to at most one every 20 minutes, preferably one every 30 minutes with the DfT effectively buying the paths back from HEx.  That's potentially 400 to 800 seats an hour.  If you terminated it at Reading with a driver at each end you turn the set around in a little over 5 minutes.   Is there 400 to 800 people travelling to Heathrow every hour??
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John R
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« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2014, 10:07:06 am »

With Crossrail I think this is inevitable in due course, if HEx even survives at all. Why would you want to pay a premium fare to change at Paddington onto the tube or a taxi when you can get a through train to the West End, Ciy and Canary Wharf. People will vote with their feet, and I suspect the owners of HEx are already working out the optimal exit strategy. Digressing a little from 1st Class etc, but fundamental to the GW main line into the next decade.   
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John R
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« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2014, 10:34:37 am »

 Is there 400 to 800 people travelling to Heathrow every hour??

HEx quote 16,000 pax per day, which averaged over 150 trains works out at just over 100 per train. I suspect it is less concentrated in the peaks than other services and more evenly spread. So that's a fairly inefficient use of 4 paths out of Paddington in the peak.     
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4064ReadingAbbey
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« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2014, 12:11:05 pm »

The proper solution, if ever it could be achieved, would be to offload those travelling those 36 onto other services....

The only real solution is to cut the HEx services from one every 15 minutes to at most one every 20 minutes, preferably one every 30 minutes with the DfT effectively buying the paths back from HEx.  That's potentially 400 to 800 seats an hour.  If you terminated it at Reading with a driver at each end you turn the set around in a little over 5 minutes.   Is there 400 to 800 people travelling to Heathrow every hour??

In 2013 Heathrow handled 72.3 million passengers. In August 2014 Heathrow handled 7 million passengers. Based on a 31 day month and an 18 hour day that means Heathrow handled 12,500 passengers (arrivals and departures) an hour. Some 40% use public transport which means that some 5,000 people travel to and from the airport by bus, tube and train in an average hour. HEx claimed in April 2014 to carry 17,000 passengers a day, assuming an even spread this equates to about 940 per hour over an 18 hour day. However traffic peaks at Heathrow are early morning, when long distance flights from the east arrive and European departures leave, and in the afternoon/early evening when European flights depart and arrive. Other Intercontinental flights are more evenly spread.

So, yes, 400 to 800 people per hour travelling to and from Heathrow by HEx and HConn in the peaks seems quite reasonable. It's quite likely to be higher.

I know that this doesn't quite fit with the thread on 1st Class, but - frequency sells. If the HEx service, or equivalent, is reduced in frequency the winners will be the taxi drivers and the losers will be everybody else - few travellers are going to hang around for half an hour for a train to London and loadings on the remaining trains will fall. Half an hours flight time gets you nearly to Paris and halfway to Munich - I know that only makes up part of the journey time but perceptions are important if, after a flight, one is stuck on a platform going nowhere.

Crossrail is similar in concept to the S-Bahn in and around Munich. This was built for the Olympics in 1972 and started by using (mostly) existing track to reach the surrounding towns after leaving the newly built city centre tunnel. Over the years, bit by bit, and as frequencies have built up the S-Bahn has built its own dedicated tracks in the outskirts and now shares the infrastructure with other operators in fewer and fewer places. The central tunnel now passes 30 trains an hour in each direction in the peaks.

I would suggest that this incremental approach be adopted for Crossrail - over the next 10 to 20 years it should aim to have as far as possible its own dedicated tracks in one form or another. On the Western the priority should be the stretch out to Heathrow and then as far west as funds allow. The Western Rail Access to Heathrow project would be part of this programme - ideally dedicated infrastructure would exist out to at least Slough to permit useful frequencies, commercial speeds and calling patterns for all services in this corridor. This will become even more important if the interchange station with HS2 is built at OOC. Only then will it be possible to provide suitable accommodation for not only First Class passengers but also for those in Standard.
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John R
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« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2014, 12:51:07 pm »


So, yes, 400 to 800 people per hour travelling to and from Heathrow by HEx and HConn in the peaks seems quite reasonable. It's quite likely to be higher.

I know that this doesn't quite fit with the thread on 1st Class, but - frequency sells. If the HEx service, or equivalent, is reduced in frequency the winners will be the taxi drivers and the losers will be everybody else - few travellers are going to hang around for half an hour for a train to London and loadings on the remaining trains will fall.

Spread over 8 trains (in both directions), 800 ph is still poor use of a scarce resource. If Crossrail can run 4 fast (maybe OOC only) services to LHR on the relief lines the airport can still have a frequent service that can get to you where you want to go quicker than the current HEx + taxi or Hex + tube. In the spirit of the title of the thread, no, those services wouldn't have 1st class accommodation, but in this instance I think the marginal disbenefit to passengers would be a price worth paying.
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4064ReadingAbbey
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« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2014, 09:30:09 pm »


So, yes, 400 to 800 people per hour travelling to and from Heathrow by HEx and HConn in the peaks seems quite reasonable. It's quite likely to be higher.

I know that this doesn't quite fit with the thread on 1st Class, but - frequency sells. If the HEx service, or equivalent, is reduced in frequency the winners will be the taxi drivers and the losers will be everybody else - few travellers are going to hang around for half an hour for a train to London and loadings on the remaining trains will fall.

Spread over 8 trains (in both directions), 800 ph is still poor use of a scarce resource. If Crossrail can run 4 fast (maybe OOC only) services to LHR on the relief lines the airport can still have a frequent service that can get to you where you want to go quicker than the current HEx + taxi or Hex + tube. In the spirit of the title of the thread, no, those services wouldn't have 1st class accommodation, but in this instance I think the marginal disbenefit to passengers would be a price worth paying.
Then - expand the resource. It^s not a fixed parameter - it can be changed and enlarged. I also cannot agree that only a hundred or so people use each Hex train - if this were the case then the trains would only need to be a couple of coaches long. But they^re not - they run in trains up to 9 coaches. Their owners, Heathrow Airports Ltd. (HAL) are not stupid - they would have saved the capital and operating costs if they could have done.

The other factor that is often forgotten in these discussions is - the money! I would suggest that the income generated by HEx is out of proportion to its passenger numbers. For example, an annual season from Reading to Zones 1-6 costs ^4,856.00. Assuming it is used on 200 days in the year this equates to a ticket price of ^12 a day each way for a 36 mile journey. People using HEx are unlikely to be using season tickets for obvious reasons and the single fare is ^21 for a distance of about 15 miles. This equates to 33p per mile for the Reading commuter and 140p per mile for the traveller to Heathrow.

So, very approximately, HEx earns four times as much per passenger per mile as the Reading commuter trains. One should think very carefully before putting this income at risk. On this basis, any organisation wanting to buy out some or all of HEx^s paths before the natural end of the contract will have to pay handsomely for the privilege.

As to the other point of running 4 trains per hour fast on the Reliefs to Airport Junction - if this were possible HEx would do this already. However there are enough stopping, semi-fast and freights using the Reliefs that this always has been and still is a non-runner if the current end-to-end times, frequency and reliability are to be maintained and even more so when the full Crossrail timetable comes into operation.

What should also not be forgotten is that the railway infrastructure from Airport Junction to the terminals at Heathrow was funded by and belongs to HAL. It has to recover the costs of construction, financing and maintenance from the ticket sales and any attempt to reallocate train paths on the main line which may affect its income will be strenuously resisted. HAL has not been responsible for the general growth in rail travel and adding additional capacity to cope with this growth is the responsibility of those that use it and their representatives. An organisation which has invested heavily in rail should not be disadvantaged - it sends all the wrong messages to others who have invested or are considering investing in rail transport.

This is not just about the ^hard done by^ commuters and train paths but about not wilfully damaging somebody^s business because one can^t be arsed to find a proper solution to one^s own problem.
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ellendune
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« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2014, 09:49:05 pm »

By the same analysis Swindon occasional passengers (paying full fare at 0.78p per mile) should also have priority over Reading commuters.

Of course there is the possibility that the cost of the investment in providing the additional capacity is more than is justified in cash terms by the income generated even at HEX rates.  In which case any solution will involve taxpayers making a contribution. In that case should they pay for Heathrow Airport Ltd to make money at the expense of Reading or even Swindon Commuters?

Where is the balance between allowing HEX to make money and taxpayers investing for the benefit od society as a whole?

Not an easy question to answer.
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John R
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« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2014, 10:12:30 pm »

4064ReadingAbbey mentions the natural end of the contract (which I think is around 2022). It's then that I think DfT is most likely to make the decision to reallocate the paths, as the currently planned Crossrail trains serving Heathrow (4 tph) will naturally have damaged the business model of HEx by their lower cost and through journey opportunities, even if the journey as far as Pad'n takes 8 mins longer.  However, I suspect HEx will see the writing on the wall before then, and may choose to enter a negotiation with DfT to sell their paths once Crossrail opens, as they may find their operation is suddenly much less profitable.

Heathrow to Liverpool St in 34 mins without a change* - why bother with HEx? 

*Source: crossrail.co.uk
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ChrisB
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« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2014, 06:39:41 am »

Shouldn't someone also be reminding Reading commuters what a good deal pence per mile they're getting in comparison? :-)
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tom m
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« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2014, 11:31:16 am »

However, I suspect HEx will see the writing on the wall before then, and may choose to enter a negotiation with DfT to sell their paths once Crossrail opens, as they may find their operation is suddenly much less profitable.

I think they already do, hence this press release:

https://www.heathrowexpress.com/news/2014/02/09/ambition-for-heathrow-reading-express-service-unveiled

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4064ReadingAbbey
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« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2014, 07:18:11 pm »

By the same analysis Swindon occasional passengers (paying full fare at 0.78p per mile) should also have priority over Reading commuters.

Of course there is the possibility that the cost of the investment in providing the additional capacity is more than is justified in cash terms by the income generated even at HEX rates.  In which case any solution will involve taxpayers making a contribution. In that case should they pay for Heathrow Airport Ltd to make money at the expense of Reading or even Swindon Commuters?

Where is the balance between allowing HEX to make money and taxpayers investing for the benefit od society as a whole?

Not an easy question to answer.
Mods: This post doesn^t really belong in this thread - please move it to where you think it makes the most sense. Even to the WPB if necessary!

I wasn^t talking about priority. I simply said that one has to think carefully before reducing the attractiveness of a service which generates some 4 times the revenue per mile than do Reading season ticket holders. In fact if one deducts that part of the season ticket fare which is passed to TfL I expect the ratio is nearer 5 to 1 as the HEx fare has no such TfL component.

Your comparison is in any event invalid as it presupposes that people travelling to Heathrow are not benefitting ^society as a whole^ whereas Reading and Swindon travellers do. What is the argument that comes to such a conclusion? In fact I would turn it on its head and say that as HEx passengers are covering the full cost of their travel (as HAL is not subsidised) then they benefit society (aka the taxpayers) more than do passengers travelling at a reduced rate on the franchised TOC.

The point is that HAL has made a massive investment in railway infrastructure: some 10 miles of tunnels, three stations, a maintenance depot and a fleet of trains. Such infrastructure investments are amortised over a period of thirty or forty years and the fares are set at a level to achieve this. Of course any contract can be re-negotiated at any point during its lifetime but if one reduces one party^s ability to generate enough income to service its debt, then that party will have to be compensated.

Three other points. One of the reasons why HAL built the railway in the first place was because of pressure from successive Governments to improve the surface access to Heathrow. If a Government were to renege on the deal then the lesson to be learned is that any company having long term dealings with Government would put the price up to cover the risk that the Government changes the rules of the game at a whim.

Secondly, does anyone think that Crossrail would have been extended to Heathrow if the tunnels had not already been built?

Finally, nobody should think that Crossrail will be much cheaper than HEx in getting to Heathrow. HAL still has to pay for its tunnels and stations regardless of whose trains use them. Even if Crossrail gets preferential pricing on the GW the access fees from Airport Junction to the airport will still have to cover the cost of the infrastructure. HConn fares between Hayes and the airport are more expensive on a per mile basis than those on the GW main line and this will continue.
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John R
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« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2014, 07:56:48 pm »


Finally, nobody should think that Crossrail will be much cheaper than HEx in getting to Heathrow. HAL still has to pay for its tunnels and stations regardless of whose trains use them. Even if Crossrail gets preferential pricing on the GW the access fees from Airport Junction to the airport will still have to cover the cost of the infrastructure. HConn fares between Hayes and the airport are more expensive on a per mile basis than those on the GW main line and this will continue.

Given a single from Padd on HConn is 9.90 and it's 21.00 on HEx I think there's every chance that Crossrail will be much cheaper.
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grahame
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« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2014, 08:15:53 pm »

Where is the balance between allowing HEX to make money and taxpayers investing for the benefit od society as a whole?

Not an easy question to answer.
Mods: This post doesn^t really belong in this thread - please move it to where you think it makes the most sense. Even to the WPB if necessary!


The most sense would be a "Heathrow services" area that we don't have ... or didn't have until a few minutes ago  Grin

Such a board hasn't existed and with the addition of CrossCounty, SouthWest and Chiltern areas over the years, the absence of a place to post about rails to Heathrow (Express, Connect, Piccadilly line tube) has become an illogical gap.    Chris from Nailsea has offered to go back and move past topics that logically go there across - THANK YOU Chris - and I'll let him split this thread for consistency of treatment too.
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4064ReadingAbbey
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« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2014, 09:04:49 pm »


Finally, nobody should think that Crossrail will be much cheaper than HEx in getting to Heathrow. HAL still has to pay for its tunnels and stations regardless of whose trains use them. Even if Crossrail gets preferential pricing on the GW the access fees from Airport Junction to the airport will still have to cover the cost of the infrastructure. HConn fares between Hayes and the airport are more expensive on a per mile basis than those on the GW main line and this will continue.

Given a single from Padd on HConn is 9.90 and it's 21.00 on HEx I think there's every chance that Crossrail will be much cheaper.

Yes.

But the fare from Paddington to Hayes is ^5.90 meaning that the Hayes to Heathrow section costs ^4. This equates to about 55p per mile for the 10.75 miles to Hayes and 133p per mile for the 3.5 miles or so to Terminal 5. If one allows that the first mile to Airport Junction is probably charged at NR rates, this means that using HAL's infrastructure costs roughly 3 times more per mile than NR's. Which is what I said!

The remainder of the pricing difference is because HEx's competition are taxis and it sets the price at a competitive level. Also we don't know the details and level of the payments that HEx makes to NR for the use of its infrastructure.

However, what happens when the HEx contract expires around 2022 is anybody's guess.
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Chris from Nailsea
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« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2014, 10:20:56 pm »

The most sense would be a "Heathrow services" area that we don't have ... or didn't have until a few minutes ago  Grin

Such a board hasn't existed and with the addition of Cross Country, South West Trains and Chiltern areas over the years, the absence of a place to post about rails to Heathrow (Express, Connect, Piccadilly line tube) has become an illogical gap.  Chris from Nailsea has offered to go back and move past topics that logically go there across - THANK YOU Chris - and I'll let him split this thread for consistency of treatment too.

Now done - hopefully, with a fairly 'clean break' in the splitting of this particular discussion, which originated in the First Great Western First Class reduction topic. CfN.  Wink
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