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Heathrow loses track charges court case


Crossrail services will stop at Heathrow as planned after the High Court dismissed Heathrow Airport’s (HAL) appeal over the amount it charges for use of its rail track.

Last May the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) ruled that HAL could not enforce its proposed charges for use of its Heathrow Express line. The line was built by BAA – now HAL – in 1998 for around £1bn.

To recoup historical costs for the spur line, HAL had wanted to charge £597 per Crossrail train, plus a further £138 per train for operational expenditure, for use of the 8.5km track. It had appealed against the decision from the ORR, which has been subject to a High Court ruling.

Crossrail trains are planned to travel along the existing Network Rail-owned track from Paddington to Hays and Harlington, where selected services will transfer onto Heathrow Express track when in opens in 2018.

But after a three-day hearing the High Court has dismissed HAL’s appeal against ORR’s ruling, meaning Crossrail services will stop at the airport from next year as planned. HAL said it was “disappointed” with the ruling.

“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,” said a spokesperson for ORR.

HAL’s expansion plans are subject to sufficient surface transport being provided for passengers and staff.

“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.,” said a spokesperson for HAL.

“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.”

A public consultation on Heathrow’s third runway closed yesterday. Heathrow will hold its own consultation on expansion plans, including surface access mitigation, in the summer.

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