Airport loses Crossrail charging bid

Heathrow has failed in an attempt to impose additional track access charges on Crossrail that would have helped the airport to recover some of the cost of building a railway spur to the site 20 years ago.

Last week the High Court dismissed a judicial review by Heathrow, which challenged a decision by the Office of Rail & Road last year. The ORR had concluded that the airport is not permitted to introduce higher charges for train operators that take into account the long term construction costs of the 8km railway spur, used by Heathrow Express services, into central London. 

Transport for London praised the High Court ruling, saying it would have been unreasonable to expect Elizabeth line services to fund historic costs when trains begin to run to the airport next year. TfL’s Elizabeth line operations director Howard Smith said:

“We welcome the court’s judgment to uphold the Office of Rail & Road’s original decision on the charging levels for Elizabeth line services to Heathrow. 

“We look forward to working swiftly with Heathrow to conclude final details of access arrangements for Elizabeth line services. The line will transform rail transport in London cutting journey times across the city, boosting jobs and economic growth.”

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

A Heathrow spokesman said: “While we are disappointed with the 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 spokesman added that Heathrow is committed to increasing sustainable public transport to the airport and looks forward to the arrival of Crossrail next May as part of plans to treble Heathrow’s rail capacity by 2040.