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TfL in High Court dispute with Heathrow over Crossrail fees

Proposals to run Elizabeth Line trains through Heathrow Airport have been jeopardised by a legal dispute over fees imposed by the airport.

Heathrow, which spent £1bn building the five-mile line linking Heathrow to the Great Western main line 20 years ago, have argued that TfL should pay for the construction of the line through track access charges that could amount to £42m a year.

These charges are broken down into a £597 fee per train to recoup historical building costs and a charge for operational expenditure amounting to £138 per train.

The ORR had ruled that Heathrow would not be allowed to charge Crossrail for the costs of building the line, the Heathrow Express, which the Elizabeth Line would run on.

A spokesperson said: “In May 2016, taking into account representations and evidence from affected parties, including considerable documentation and submissions from Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL), we decided HAL is not permitted to introduce all of its proposed new charges for train operators to use its track, which links Heathrow ‎Airport to the Great Western main line.”

But this is a decision that Heathrow has in an attempt to still try and place the charges on Elizabeth Line services, run by TfL. The hearings were held earlier this year and a High Court judgment is expected within weeks.

Despite this, a spokesperson for the airport said Heathrow was still “committed to increasing public transport to Heathrow and look forward to the arrival of Crossrail in May 2018”.

They added that “we need to ensure that track access charges are fair and we are waiting on a ruling from the courts on whether the regulations apply and if so, their correct application to cost”.

Stephen Joseph, Campaign for Better Transport’s chief executive, stated that Heathrow “could not have it both ways” in terms of increasing links and generating income.

“Increasing public transport is integral to ensuring the airport cuts pollution and meets air quality targets,” he said. “This case shows Heathrow is making promises to deliver but isn’t prepared to pay their share of the associated costs.

“This doesn’t bode well for Heathrow’s commitment to pay for surface access costs for a new third runway, which could top £18bn, and means taxpayers could be left footing the bill.”

RTM has contacted TfL for comment, but at the time of publication had not received  response.

Top Image: Warren Rohner

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Huguenot   23/05/2017 at 14:14

What is the current position with Heathrow Connect, run jointly by HAL and GWR? Surely the access charges for Crossrail should be the same per train, since it will replace the Connect service.

Melvyn   23/05/2017 at 18:35

So what Access charges does Heathrow pay for using Network Rail track from Airport Junction and Paddington Station for each of the two current services? With Elizabeth Line being fully accessible and thus easier to use for passengers with luggage then it's likely more and more passengers heading for Heathrow will use Elizabeth Line and indeed tube stations which connect which are also being made more accessible. Afterall, look how far Paddington Station is from central London. Surely Heathrow should be looking at developing the Western Access scheme and maybe even a direct electrified link between Heathrow and Gatwick Airports thus serving both airports with a single line.

Andrew Gwilt   23/05/2017 at 20:02

What about HS2! Will HS2 cost a lot to operate its own services in & out of Heathrow Airport to major cities away from London such as Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and a new East Midlands hub station located between Derby and Nottingham. Does that mean that the Elizabeth Line will only terminate at Heathrow Central which means you have to change for a shuttle train to Terminal 4 and 5 or will the Elizabeth Line terminate at Heathrow Terminal 4 with interchange for shuttle trains to Heathrow Terminal 5 from Heathrow Central coming to & from Shenfield, Abbey Wood and Central London.

D Ward   24/05/2017 at 09:59

Have you thought about who owns Heathrow in the light of Brexit might have something to do with these arguments?

Dudley Horscroft   24/05/2017 at 10:50

Does HAL charge for track access by the Piccadilly Line? What track access charges does it make for the various roads into Heathrow?

Mark Hare   24/05/2017 at 10:59

@Andrew Gwilt what are you talking about? HS2 is not running services in and out of Heathrow Airport.

John Grant   24/05/2017 at 12:53

@Hugenot: I think the difference is that HAL doesn't have a share of Crossrail. @Dudley: HAL built the spur off the GW line. I'm guessing they didn't build the Picc line or the roads.

Alec Glendinning   24/05/2017 at 14:06

TfL previously estimated the potential cost to the tax payer of the third runway at £18.4bn. Perhaps this is the figure that its being quoted?

Andrew Gwilt   24/05/2017 at 17:08

So HS2 will miss Heathrow Airport but to serve other airports such as Birmingham, East Midlands and Manchester.

Melvyn   24/05/2017 at 19:22

@ Andrew Gwitt - Heathrow is in the wrong location to be directly on HS2 which will leave Euston Station and head North West ( Heathrow is too far west) . Interchange for Heathrow will be at Old Oak Common from HS2 to Crossrail and will largely be used by passengers from the north given Londoners will use Crossrail. Birmingham and Manchester Airports are both on HS2 route while to do the same for Heathrow would be like sending HS2 passengers most of whom don't want Heathrow around a Tilbury style loop adding wasted time to journeys. I suppose we could scrap 3rd runway and relocate Heathrow Airport to Buckinghamshire where HS2 crosses East West Rail !

Transtraxman   25/05/2017 at 10:46

As has been said already, the difference between Crossrail and Heathrow Connect is that the former is owned by TfL while the latter was a joint venture. Thus HAL wants to get back in the act of making some money from the connection it built. Why not take the next logical step and connect the Heathrow Express with the Stansted Express though Crossrail? Here you can serve both airports directly with faster transfer times, free up platforms at Paddington, give a better service to all users , and being routed through Stratford can link with Eurostar (as well as other operators). A joint venture between the two current owners might well solve the problem of income loss to HAL. To develop this trains could run to both T4 and T5 (permitting the Elizabeth Line to do the same). This would eliminate the need to disembark at Heathrow Central for an onward connection. An intermediate stop at Ealing Broadway might be advisable to make access to/from West London easier. Thus a service pattern might develop of 3tph from each terminal (T4 & T5)to Stansted while another 3tph Elizabeth line trains to Ebbsfleet also from both terminals. This makes a grand total of 12 tph running through Heathrow Central on route to central London, to continue on to serve two important airports as well(Stansted and London City).

David   25/05/2017 at 20:07

Transtraxman, there isn't a connection between Crossrail and the Lea Valley Lines at Stratford.

James Palma   25/05/2017 at 20:19

Dudley, london underground and HAL apparently have an odd situation where London I derground owns all of the tunnels on the T1, 2 and 3 section and the station, owns the tunnels on the T4 section but not the T4 station which is leased, and leases the tunnels for the T5 section. Within all this there are agreements for sharing ticket income as the tubes were constructed to enable passengers to get to and from the airport. There are also lots of weird agreements and transfers governing the relationship of the tube and airport. Apparently 🙄

James Palma   25/05/2017 at 20:21

Sorry Dudley. So no there ar no track acces charges but shared fares revenue.

Mikeb   26/05/2017 at 16:21

@ D Ward. Yes, I think most contributors on here know that Heathrow is owned by a consortium of Spanish infrastructure/construction companies. Therefore, post-Brexit, foreign ownership of UK companies should indeed of be given serious consideration, if foreign parent companies (particularly those based in EU countries) attempt to hinder future infrastructure projects

Paul   26/05/2017 at 16:56

@Mikeb/D ward I'm afraid Brexit has nothing to do with foreign ownership of UK infrastructure or companies, other than giving some of the European based ones a bit more paperwork to do. AIUI HAL is a uk based subsidiary so the effect here is zero.

Jerry Alderson   27/05/2017 at 14:50

Can anyone shed any light on the quoted £1bn cost of the Heathrow rail link? According to the Britain's Growing Railway book by Railfuture, the origial project cost (Central and T4) was £350m. Did the T5 link cost £650m? Or has the £1bn been converted to today's money?

Lutz   28/05/2017 at 14:30

I suspect that this part of the negotiations over the funding for transport links relating to the third runway.

Andrew Gwilt   29/05/2017 at 20:06

Thanks Melvyn. Just realised that a new Old Oak Common railway station in West London which is planned to be built as part of HS2 will act as interchange for HS2, National Rail, Elizabeth Line, London Overground and possibly London Underground (Central Line) with Elizabeth Line trains serving stations to the west and east of London including Heathrow Airport that the Elizabeth Line will operate to & from Heathrow Airport.

David Fenner   29/05/2017 at 22:06

This sort of dispute does not bode well for further links to Heathrow from the west ( Reading) or south west (Staines). Would you charge passengers travelling from Reading to say Ealing on a train routed via Heathrow extra fir the "privilage" of a slightly longer journey via the airport because the access track access charge was higher?

Jeremy Barker   04/06/2017 at 21:51

The Administrative Court threw out Heathrow Airport's application for judicial review of the ORR decision on 26 May. You can read the judgment here: I would not be surprised if Heathrow tries to appeal this.

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