On fast track to mark­ing 18 years of travel

Unique bike vs train race hon­ours the Heathrow Ex­press rail-air link

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Salina Pa­tel salina.pa­tel@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

THE ex­press air-rail link ser­vice con­nect­ing cen­tral Lon­don to Heathrow Air­port cel­e­brates turn­ing 18 this month.

To mark the spe­cial oc­ca­sion Heathrow Ex­press chal­lenged for­mer Bri­tish Olympic track cy­cling cham­pion Vic­to­ria Pendle­ton to a one-on-one speed race.

While Ms Pendle­ton strapped on­board a 600CC limo-mo­tor­bike, Heathrow Ex­press train driver Caro­line Davies steered the train to reach the air­port first.

Opened in July 1998, Heathrow Ex­press, a busi­ness class air­port ser­vice, was launched to pro­vide a fast con­nec­tion from Lon­don Padding­ton to the UK’s hub air­port in 15 min­utes.

In hon­our of its 18 birth­day, a spe­cial re­duced fare – from £36 to £25 - has been re­leased for cus­tomers trav­el­ling to and from the air­port dur­ing the sum­mer months.

Fraser Brown, Heathrow Ex­press Di­rec­tor, said: “We al­ways put our cus­tomers first, and by re­duc­ing our re­turn fares this sum­mer we hope that more re­peat and new cus­tomers will ben­e­fit from the fastestf t t Lon­don-Heathrow com­mute as they head away for sum­mer hol­i­days and work.”

To date, the ser­vice has car­ried nearly 100 mil­lion pas­sen­gers, an av­er­age of 17,000 peo­ple a day through its 150 daily ser­vices.

The com­pany has a strong work­force of 490 peo­ple from over 40 na­tion­al­i­ties, with 40% of its driv­ers women.

Among its fleet of 18year vet­eran staff, duty man­ager Brian Keenan re­calls once re­sus­ci­tat­ing an un­con­scious pas­sen­ger who had “flat-lined” on his jour­ney to the air­port, with quick think­ing sub­se­quently sav­ing the pas­sen­ger’s life.

Mr Brown added: “This spe­cial mile­stone is an op­por­tu­nity to re­flect on our en­tire team’s ded­i­ca­tion to pro­vid­ing a pre­mium and seam­less ex­pe­ri­ence whilst also fo­cus­ing on the in­no­va­tion that will drive the next 18 years and en­sure Heathrow Ex­press con­tin­ues to be one of world’s quick­est lead­ing air-rail links.”

In spring this year, pas­sen­gers gave the ser­vice a 94% sat­is­fac­tion rat­ing for re­li­a­bil­ity.

The ser­vice also scored highly for over­all cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, achiev­ing 91% in the same Na­tional Rail Pas­sen­ger Sur­vey in 2016.

In a num­ber of firsts, Heathrow Ex­press made Lon­don Padding­ton the first UK train sta­tion with flight in­for­ma­tion dis­play screens, the first to in­tro­duce a mo­bile e-ticketing app, com­ple­men­tary on­board WiFi, and the world’s first live ad­ver­tis­ing screens.

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