To kickstart this trip, I decided to explore the free Inter-Terminal Transfer trains around Heathrow since it was, well, free. This also allows me to get on the Heathrow Express for free, which would otherwise overrun my budget immediately once I buy a regular ticket on it for Paddington. On top of that, I wanted to try out the Heathrow Pods too, so this free Inter-Terminal Transfer was on the way for me to get to Terminal 5 for it.
With the taking over of Heathrow Connect services by TfL Rail and the acceptance of Oyster and contactless for the Heathrow Express, ticket gates are now installed at all platforms. As such, a free Inter-Terminal Transfer ticket needs to be picked up from the free Inter-Terminal Transfer ticket machines before passing through the ticket gates.
Using the free Inter-Terminal Transfer ticket machine is very straightforward. Just press how many tickets you need (up to a maximum of 9 per print) and press print.
Once done, pick up the free Inter-Terminal Transfer ticket.
Regular ticket machines are also available, which I used to pick up my return tickets to Oxford first, just in case I needed to head off from within the system.
You can purchase an Oyster, Heathrow Express tickets, Travelcards and regular London zonal tickets from this machine. Prepaid tickets can also be picked up, along with new National Rail ticket purchases.
After a simple check on my credit card and keying in my booking code, my tickets are printed.
My tickets to Oxford and back for later.
Heading into the station. Trains between Terminal 4 and Terminals 2 and 3 operated at a 30 minute frequency on the day of my visit, which means that there aren’t any additional shuttles between Terminal 4 and Terminals 2 and 3 on top of the regular TfL Rail trains to and from Paddington.
Heading down the lifts to the platform.
Heading to the platform through the ticket gates.
My free Inter-Terminal Transfer ticket for this trip.
Follow the signs pointing to the next train out.
My free Inter-Terminal Transfer to Terminals 2 and 3.
This TfL Rail train is bound for London Paddington, operated by MTR Corporation under contract to TfL.
The Class 360/2 Siemens Desiro which will take me to Terminals 2 and 3 to transfer to the Heathrow Express train to Terminal 5.
Looks familiar? The Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link in Bangkok, Thailand uses the same trains.
The interior of the TfL Rail Class 360/2 Siemens Desiro.
The doors of the TfL Rail Class 360/2 Siemens Desiro are operated on demand to keep the warmth of the train in. Push the button to open doors.
The route map of the western section of TfL Rail.
The doors of the TfL Rail Class 360/2 Siemens Desiro slam as loud as the ones in Bangkok.
Push the button to open doors.
The free Inter-Terminal Transfer ticket has a route map of the National Rail Heathrow Free Travel Zone printed behind.
Departing from Terminal 4, the train announces its service as the free Inter-Terminal Transfer to Terminals 2 and 3, rather than a TfL Rail service to London Paddington.
Feels like I’m in Bangkok instead.
Seats are arranged in a 2+3 bay formation. Picking the row of 3 might be more comfortable on an empty train.
Luggage racks are also available beside the train doors.
Alighting from the TfL Rail train.
Trains for Terminal 4 and Terminal 5 are located at Platform 1.
Once I crossed over to Platform 1, I saw the Heathrow Express for Terminal 5 departing. Oh well.
I took a leisurely stroll up the platform since it was going to be a 15-minute wait.
The first train arriving at Platform 1 would be the TfL Rail service to Terminal 4.
The arriving Siemens Desiro Class 360/2 bound for Terminal 4.
Lots of passengers boarded this train due to the ridiculously low 30-minute frequency on the line.
My train was next.
The Heathrow Express Class 332 pulling into the platform.
This Heathrow Express train is bound for Terminal 5, operated by Heathrow Express Operating Company but franchised to Great Western Railway.
This train is formed of 9 cars made up of a 4-car set and a 5-car set.
The coupling between the 4-car set and 5-car set.
Not sure if it was a stroke of luck but Business First was stopped in front of me.
I headed to board it.
The interior of Business First.
Seats are arranged in a very comfortable 1+1 configuration. Luggage racks are available by the train doors.
A seemingly private room is also available towards the cab with just 3 seats – 2 on a facing table and 1 solo seat.
I decided to sit in the private area.
Power sockets are available at the table.
Luggage racks and literature are also available.
Is this the most luxurious airport Inter-Terminal Transfer in the world?
Shortly after departure, the train announced its impending arrival at Terminal 5.
Some strange codes appeared on the LED information bar.
That was a quick and enjoyable ride on Heathrow Express Business First.
Disembarking from the Heathrow Express.
The exterior of the Business First car.
Note: The free Inter-Terminal Transfer ticket is actually not valid on Business First, but no one stopped me for this 4-minute journey. I only heard the announcement on board the train after departure anyway.
Heading out of the ticket gates.
Here, I got the lift up to the departure hall to figure out where the Heathrow Pods were. This set of lifts operate like a train – there are no buttons to press and departs on a schedule heading up to the departure hall first, then down to the arrival hall, and back to the railway station.