Heathrow loses Crossrail track access charges claim

 A THREE day judicial review has rejected a claim from Heathrow Airport which had been set to cost Transport for London £42 million a year in access charges for running Crossrail services to Heathrow.

The Heathrow spur is a key part of the new Elizabeth line and is one of the two western termini, along with Reading.

A claim for access charges had been lodged by Heathrow Airport Limited, which had argued that its predecessor BAA had invested some £1 billion in building the Heathrow link from the Great Western Main Line in the 1990s, to allow the premium fare Heathrow Express service to be launched.

An additional stopping service – Heathrow Connect – followed in 2005, charging significantly lower fares. At first passengers were not permitted to use Connect to travel through from Paddington to the Airport for fear of damaging Express revenues, but this restriction did not last long.

Connect is now set to be replaced by Elizabeth line services from next year, while the future of Heathrow Express is not yet known.

The Office of Rail and Road had already ruled that HAL could not charge the proposed fees, but the airport had mounted a High Court challenge in response.

Heathrow Airport Holdings said it was ‘disappointed’ about today’s ruling. The company explained: “Heathrow is committed to increasing sustainable public transport to the airport – that’s why we invested in Crossrail, built the Heathrow Express rail service, support Piccadilly line services to the airport, and subsidise Europe’s largest free bus network.

“We are looking forward to the arrival of Crossrail in May 2018 as part of our plans to treble Heathrow’s rail capacity by 2040 and put the airport at the heart of an integrated transport network in London.

“While we are disappointed with today’s ruling and are considering our next steps, both Heathrow and Network Rail agree that track access charges must be fair to encourage future private investment in the rail network.”

The ORR said: “We welcome this judgment and we will now work with all the affected parties to enable Crossrail services to start running as scheduled into the airport.”

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