People with disabilities visiting London will find that the wheelchair accessible Heathrow Express is barrier-free from ticketing to arrival. Paddington Station offers accessible connections to other public transport services, including city bus and the London Underground subway system. Black cabs can be hailed easily from the street and feature wheelchair accessible ramps.
For information about riding the Heathrow Express as a wheelchair user or person with a disability, continue reading this review below.
Ticketing & Fares
The Heathrow Express is often criticized for being expensive, with one-way fares of £22 to £25 (~$27-$30 USD) purchased at the station. However, significant discounts are available when purchasing in advance via the website or mobile app. Here is a run-down of the cost of advance purchase tickets in the standard cabin, segmented according to the travel date:
- Within 14-29 days, weekday: £16.50
- 14-29 days, weekend: £12.10
- 30-89 days, weekday: £14.30
- 30-89 days, weekend: £8.80
- 90+ days, weekday: £12.10
- 90+ days, weekend: £5.50
The discount off tickets purchased at the station on the day of travel can be more than 75%, depending on how far in advance you book the ticket and which day of the week you are traveling on.
Flexible return tickets can also be purchased online, for a price of £37. These tickets allow you travel at any time within 3 months of the "travel date" you select. The return portion of the ticket is valid for up to one month after the outbound journey is taken. This is a great option if you haven't fully nailed down your travel plans, but want to take advantage of a discount.
To purchase tickets online, or to read more about fares, visit www.heathrowexpress.com.
Route, Schedule & Stations
The Heathrow Express is an express service, and only serves three stations, two of which are at the airport.
Heathrow Terminal 5 is the route terminus/start. Trains depart T5 every 15 minutes. The second stop is at Heathrow Central Station, which has underground walkways connecting to airport terminals 2 and 3. Travelers can also access the London Underground's Piccadilly line, the city bus terminal and a shuttle to the airport's Terminal 4 from Heathrow Central station.
Travel between Terminal 5 and Heathrow Central station is free for all passengers, but you will need a ticket to continue on to Paddington Station in Central London.
Paddington Station is the final stop on the Heathrow Express, located in Central London about one mile north of Hyde Park and Kensington Palace. Connections to the London Underground Bakerloo, Circle, District and Hammersmith & City lines are available. Information on the accessibility of the Tube can be found at www.tfl.gov.uk. The station is also served by city bus routes 7, 23, 27, 36, 46, 205, 332, N7 and N205. Accessible black cabs can be hailed outside the station.
If you are looking for a hotel near Paddington Station, consider the Hilton London Paddington, which is only steps away.
Wheelchair Accessible Heathrow Express Trains
The Heathrow Express rolling stock is top of the line and manufactured by CAF and Siemens. Boarding with a wheelchair is seamless, thanks to level-entry and the smallest of gaps between the train and station platform.
Certain doors of the train are marked with a wheelchair symbol, indicating the wheelchair accessible seating and parking spaces inside. If you will need assistance boarding or finding a wheelchair space, reach out to staff who will be on the platform prior to each arrival and departure.
Two types of wheelchair spaces can be found on the train, and they are across the aisle from one another:
The first photo above shows a wheelchair space with two seats that fold up against the wall. A power outlet and emergency call button are located underneath cupholders, which are attached just below the window.
The second photo features a wheelchair space located across the aisle from other. This space contains only one of the fold up seats, but has a single conventional seat, like those found in a 2-2 configuration throughout the rest of the train car. This space also features cupholders, a power outlet and emergency call button. There is plenty of room to accommodate a power wheelchair in both spaces.
Just beyond the wheelchair seating area is an accessible bathroom:
Even though you'll only spend 15 minutes on the Heathrow Express, you will have access to a fairly large wheelchair accessible lavatory/bathroom. I tested out the space with my own power wheelchair, and was able to get in a position to transfer to the toilet with a little bit of maneuvering. Grabs bars along the wall and a fold down grab bar next to the toilet will contribute to a safe transfer. The sink basin was also accessible and easy to use.
The Heathrow Express train provides the fastest and most reliable transportation between Europe's largest airport and the city of London. From start-to-finish, the 15-minute high speed rail journey is completely barrier-free and accessible to wheelchair users and persons with disabilities.
Better yet, the Heathrow Express is affordable too - especially when booking your trip far enough in advance. Savings for a 90+ day advance booking can top 75%, with impressive discounts also available at the 14 and 30 day marks. And, even if you are not able to book in advance, you'll still save money over the cost of a taxi by using the Heathrow Express.
With all of this good news surrounding the express train service from London's Heathrow Airport, all that's left is to buy your ticket and await the journey!