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New Service Start-Up at Heathrow Express

North Star’s Founding partner Richard was integral to the successful commencement of the Heathrow Express rail-air link service. As Railtrack’s Heathrow Express Implementation Manager he acted as the main interface between Railtrack and Heathrow Express who were Railtrack’s first new customer since privatisation.

Heathrow Express represented a £440m investment by BAA, designed to improve access to Heathrow from Central London by providing a fast, high quality train service. For Railtrack this placed considerable demand on the organisation and brought many new challenges. As well as providing the first new train fleet to go through a new approval process, Heathrow Express is a customer that demands high standards of service from its supplier of train paths and station facilities. All of this had to be added to an already busy Great Western Main Line and Paddington station. 150 extra airport trains per day and no overall reduction in service quality for other train operators was the challenge whilst keeping the demanding new customer, Heathrow Express, satisfied.

Managing the relationship between client and a new customer in a newly privatised environment Richard had to quickly identify the problems that required attention and manage them to ensure both parties were satisfied. Tight deadlines and emerging issues meant that he had to pinpoint the hot spots promptly and resolve problems using his operational expertise and people skills. He provided operational advice through the train testing programme, the trial operations, the safety approvals and the setting up of contracts to manage the relationship and was on hand to iron out problems in the early days of service operation

As a result, Heathrow Express successfully launched an interim service in January 1998 and their full service into the newly built stations in May 1998. Deadlines for start up were achieved and Railtrack’s first new customer became known for providing the most reliable rail service into London.

Ben Harding, the first Managing Director of Heathrow Express said “Richard Brown played a pivotal role bringing Heathrow Express into service.  As one of our key suppliers he understood BAA’s  business proposition, which was based on customer service and safety.  He did an excellent job in clearing obstacles, and helped Heathrow Express become the world leader it is.”

Richard joined Heathrow Express in 1999 and was integral to the concept development for the second mainline rail service into Heathrow serving local stations.

As Head of Operations at Heathrow Express he led the team that gained approval to operate the second service, Heathrow Connect, ensuring that the customer service proposition and operational integrity was in place.

In 2005 the Heathrow Connect service was successfully launched after planning, new train build and service definition and implementation were overseen by Richard

He has since offered advice to a number of other start up operations aiming to replicate the modern, customer focussed train operations that both Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect represent.

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