Heathrow has teamed up with First Bus to offer passengers and colleagues travelling from Guildford a more sustainable way of getting to and from the airport, starting this month. The partnership sees the launch of a new route and RailAir service from Guildford to Heathrow, which will take just under 60 minutes from Guildford and has the potential to take thousands of cars off the road every year.
Officially launched at an event next to Guildford Train Station on July 12, the service will operate hourly starting at Guildford Train station from 3.40am and latest arrival 11pm every day. It will call at the University of Surrey, RHS Garden Wisley and on through to Heathrow Terminal 5, the Compass Centre and Central Bus Station.
The new route will provide the South of England with better connections, timed to connect with fast trains from Portsmouth, Petersfield, Havant and Haslemere. Teaming up with First Bus supports the airport’s plan to increase connectivity with local communities and the wider UK, through sustainable and reliable routes. Currently over 80 per cent of passenger mode share traveling from the Guildford area to Heathrow is private car or taxi – a statistic the airport is keen to change.
The Guildford RailAir coach link will also make passenger journeys easier to plan and purchase with the introduction of through ticketing. Linked to the rail network, passengers will be able to purchase one ticket to use on the South Western Railway network between Portsmouth and Guildford and for an extra £9 add-on the coach service, making journeys seamless and faster.
He said: “It was great to be attending the launch of the new coach link from Guildford to Heathrow. Good surface access to the airport from our area is so vital for the economy and this is a step in the right direction.”
Heathrow’s Director of Surface Access Tony Caccavone said: “The new Guildford rail air service is a fantastic addition to the range of public transport options available to passengers and colleagues to get to Heathrow by sustainable means. We are proud to be partnering with First Group to encourage more people out of their cars and onto public transport, helping to reduce congestion and emissions on local roads.”
Simon Goff, Interim Managing Director, First Hampshire, Dorset and Berkshire who operate RailAir, First Bus said: “It’s long been an aspiration to grow the RailAir coach link from its Reading base where we have been serving Heathrow for over 50 years. I am pleased to say that the dream has now become a reality, and we can’t wait to make travel to Heathrow easier for our new customers.”
Peter Williams, Commercial Director for South Western Railways said: “This is great news for SWR customers looking to travel to and from Heathrow Airport. The RailAir coach service puts Airport Heathrow within reach for many of our customers. For the first time, customers travelling from Portsmouth can be in Terminal 5 in under two hours with only one easy change at Guildford Station.”
Currently the best-connected airport and busiest coach and bus service interchange in the UK, Heathrow is aiming to go further by working with our transport partners to connect the top 100 towns and cities in the UK via public transport, including coach and bus. Today, Heathrow links with 60 of these. The airport is fully backing plans to more than double the number of trains serving Heathrow per hour and treble the seat capacity by 2040 through improved transport links which take into account the introduction of the Elizabeth Line, an upgraded Piccadilly Line, and proposed rail links from the West and South.
Earlier this year, Heathrow announced plans to take more cars off the road to reduce local congestion and emissions. By 2022, Heathrow plans to introduce an Ultra-Low Emission Zone targeting older, more polluting passenger cars and private hire vehicles, before a wider Vehicle Access Charge (VAC) is introduced for all passenger cars, taxis and private hire vehicles entering the airport with the opening of the new runway.