Heathrow Express’ managing director has rejected calls for the high-speed rail service to slash ticket prices, insisting it offers passengers good value for money.
Keith Greenfield told Business Traveller the 15-minute Paddington to Heathrow service, which celebrated its 15th anniversary at the weekend, is competing with taxis and that a £20 one-way adult fare is therefore comparatively cheap.
In April, Hounslow Council chiefs wrote to London mayor Boris Johnson to ask Heathrow to cut the single fare to £5.50 to fall in line with Transport for London prices. They argued that this would result in more passengers using the service and less congestion and pollution on the roads.
But Greenfield said: “The standard taxi fare from Heathrow is about £70, while ours is £20. That’s the market we’re competing in.
“We make no apologies for charging £20 and time-saving half-an-hour of what you’d achieve with a taxi.
“The National Passenger Survey figures have just come out for this spring and value for money-wise we’ve actually improved rather than gone backwards. So, obviously passengers feel that they are getting as good value for money, in fact higher value.”
However, Greenfield said the service is trying to attract more leisure travellers through an increase in offers, such as the new pricing structure launched last year (see online news, November 2012). Among the deals, up to two children can travel for free with each paying adult, with the offer valid for both Express Class single and return journeys.
Greenfield said: “We do recognise that there are other parts of the market, the leisure travellers, where we need to compete with other markets… [But] we now have some online offers to make ourselves more accessible to those travellers.”
As part of the 15th anniversary celebrations over the weekend, a train carriage made entirely of cake – and measuring a huge 1.5m x 4m x 2m – arrived at Paddington and was shared among passengers travelling to and from Heathrow.