My Experience on London’s New Elizabeth Line from Heathrow

by joeheg

During my last visit to London, in 2019, there were three main transportation options to travel from London Heathrow to the city center:

  • The first option was to hire a taxi or a rideshare, the quickest but the most expensive option. This option offered the advantage of being dropped off directly at your destination.
  • The second possibility was the Heathrow Express, the fastest rail with a direct line from Heathrow Airport to London Paddington Station.
  • Finally, the third choice was to use the Piccadilly Line of the London Underground, which was the least expensive option but also the slowest. It took over an hour to reach St. Pancras/Kings Cross from the airport using the London Underground.

During my visit last month, I was planning to take #3, the Piccadilly Line to London, as I was staying near Leicester Square. It’s a direct ride, albeit with many stops. Since I had the time, I was willing to save some money, even if it meant a longer trip. However, I saw another option while sitting at the Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge.

The Elizabeth Line

I’d read about the Elizabeth Line, but I didn’t research it because I thought the Underground was the best value. I should have paid more attention because the Elizabeth Line provides a fast (but not the fastest) rail option to London.

The Elizabeth line stretches more than 100km from Reading and Heathrow in the west through central tunnels across to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. Get helpful tips for travelling on our newest railway.

To be honest, I was a little confused about the Elizabeth Line. It’s part of Transport For London (TfL), and Elizabeth Line fares are the same as the Tube on journeys within TfL’s fare zones. However, traveling on the Elizabeth Line starts from £12.80 for a journey to or from Heathrow Airport, where that journey starts, ends, or goes through Zone 1, which begins at Paddington Station.

My best comparison is the difference between taking the LIRR to Penn Station from JFK Airport instead of the subway. And the Elizabeth Line is a train and not a subway.

The Elizabeth Line was opened in 2022, which means that everything still feels brand new. As a result, all stations lack character and look the same, but that’s not necessarily a bad trade-off for having a new station. I found it convenient to tap on the train with my phone, which made it easier for me instead of trying to figure out how to buy a ticket.

a subway station with a sign on the wall

At Heathrow Airport, the Elizabeth Line trains leave from the same stations as the Heathrow Express, so it’s important to look at which train you are boarding. If you tapped on, you don’t have a ticket. However, you’ll pay for fare for whichever train you board.

a sign on a wall

Notice that the Elizabeth Line takes 30 minutes to get to Paddington Station while the Heathrow Express only takes 15 minutes. However, for my trip to Tottenham Court Road, I could stay on the Elizabeth Line train, while I would need to transfer if I was on the Heathrow Express.

In addition, the Elizabeth Line trains had plenty of space for me and my suitcase.

a train with seats and windows

Final Thought

The Elizabeth Line was a great option for getting from Heathrow Airport to London. For all of the public transport options, your destination will determine which is the best option. Since I was within walking distance of a station, the Elizabeth Line made the most sense. For other areas, it might make more sense to take the Picadilly Line of the Underground or the Heathrow Express.

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1 comment

Andrei April 8, 2024 - 5:45 pm

If you tap in at Heathrow with your card, that is only valid on Elizabeth line trains. For Heathrow Express, you need to buy a separate ticket as a paper ticket or in the Heathrow Express app.


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