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Thrilled Tony Blair opens HEX

HEATHROW EXPRESS' official launch on Tuesday was the most high profile inauguration of any UK transport project for many years.

Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Deputy John Prescott both turned out to sample the new high speed airport link - and to sing its praises.

'My vision of a 21st century transport policy was to get to Heathrow quickly,' he chirped.

'It was a real thrill,' he commented after his 13 minute ride from Paddington, which beat the timetabled journey by two minutes. The Prime Minister related how his transport vision had developed years ago when he lived 'by Arsenal' and frequently had to fly up to Tyneside, a journey that involved an hour- long ride on the Tube to Heathrow.

Prescott described the £450M Heathrow Express as 'the best rail connection of any major airport'. Voicing his 'delight' in the project he gave 'sincere congratulations to all involved in a good quality investment'.

Trains were packed to capacity on Tuesday when owner BAA offered free rides to all. From yesterday customers for the premium rail service will pay £10 each way or £20 first class.

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