Check out the progress on the new Crossrail / Elizabeth line Paddington Station


By Heathrow

Published 30th November 2016

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Did you know that when the Elizabeth line (Crossrail) Paddington Station,  opens it will feature one of Europe’s largest artworks? The Cloud Index, sponsored by Heathrow as part of Crossrail’s Culture Line initiative, will be the centrepiece of the Paddington Station – serving as a grand canopy for the main ticket hall. Here at yourHeathrow, we got to take a sneakpeak behind the scenes of the work in progress at Paddington.

The Elizabeth line is set to dramatically reduce travel times to Heathrow from London’s east, with Canary Wharf, for example, to be within just 39 minutes of Heathrow!

Today, the station is still under construction but very much on the way to being a new gateway for Heathrow passengers into London.

The station layout

Built to the south of Brunel’s iconic 19th Century station, directly below Eastbourne Terrace and Departures Road, the new station spans three levels with two entrances into the station via a new pedestrianised public realm.

An impression of the Paddington Station ticket hall. Source: Crossrail

A 90 metre clear opening – a unique feature for urban underground station design – will be covered by a dramatic steel and glass canopy eight metres above the ground that will let natural light flood down to the station platform. The open void will allow for natural air to circulate through the station.

Printed onto the 120 metre long, 18 metre wide, canopy will be a bespoke work of art by American artist Spencer Finch sponsored by Heathrow. The ‘Cloud Index’ will create a picture of the sky which will appear to change according to the light, the direction of the sun and the time of day in the tradition of artists such as Constable and Turner. (Source:

Artist Spencer Finch said, “I want to create a visual experience for travellers that changes each time they pass through the station. This artwork will exist both as an artificial cloudscape and as a homage to the British obsession with categorizing and systematizing the most fugitive of natural phenomena.”

“Since Luke Howard first created a nomenclature for clouds in 1803, the efforts to comprehend and quantify clouds have been both beautiful and quixotic, and clouds always seem to stay one step ahead of human understanding.”

Installing the “Cloud Index”

The Cloud Index will be made up of 180 panels of glass and represents a significant challenge in itself to construct.

To date, Crossrail and Finch have gone through a strenuous process of testing construction materials, modifying layouts to maximise the angle of sunlight in the area, and analysing how the artwork created on different canvas types can alter the overall effects.

An artists impression of the “Cloud Index” canopy artwork. Source: Crossrail

A final design and construction technique has now been decided upon, beginning with the artwork being digitally printed on a series of 6 metres long by 2 metres wide, triple layered, glass panels.

To ensure the artwork won’t be damaged by natural elements or pollution, the design is printed on the middle layer of glass. This will also allow for the roof to be cleaned easily.

The Heathrow team on site during the visit.

In 2017, the first stage of the canopy installation will begin with a temporary roof erected, complete with an access deck on top.

This will provide access to the roof for those installing the artwork, and also waterproof the main ticket hall area so that it can be fitted out concurrently.

WATCH | Hear from the artist Spencer Finch and Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye via Crossrail’s video below.

Heathrow has won the Airport Operators Association Award for Best Airport (10 million passengers and above) overnight for the second year in a row!

The award is voted on by airlines and passengers and recognises the best of the best from the UK aviation industry.

“The AOA Awards showcase the best in the aviation and airport sectors. The 2016 winners demonstrate the vibrant and innovative work going on across the UK and Ireland, improving efficiency, reducing the impact of aviation on the environment and delivering an ever-improving passenger experience.” – AOA CEO, Darren Caplan

“Congratulations to them all!”

The AOA award follows Heathrow’s success in the Skytrax Awards earlier in the year, where it took home Best Airport in Western Europe (for the 2nd time), Best Airport Shopping (for the 7th time), and World’s Best Terminal (T5 – for the 5th time).

Heathrow suppliers recognised with awards and commendations

Heathrow Airport suppliers including Vanderlande, Babcock International Group, Wilson James, and Omniserve Ltd also took home awards or were highly commended in their own categories.

Of particular note was Wilson James, who were highly commended in the Best Business Partner category for their impressive engagement with the local community.

Other award winners on the night included:

  • Best General Aviation Airport: Gloucestershire Airport

  • Best Airport (Under 3 million passengers): London Southend Airport

  • Best Airport (3-10 million passengers): Glasgow Airport

  • Best Airport (Over 10 million passengers): Heathrow Airport


Heathrow’s oldest Terminal in operation – Terminal 3 – celebrated its 55th year in operation this week! We’ve taken a closer look at the Terminal, once known as the “Oceanic Terminal”, its history, and what lies in store for the future! Enjoy!

On 13 November 1961, the “Oceanic Terminal” opened at London Airport (now known as Heathrow), providing a permanent building for passengers to access long-haul flights from.

Nine years later it was expanded to add a dedicated arrivals building.

At the time, it was only the second Terminal at Heathrow – joining the Europa Terminal, which was opened by Her Majesty the Queen in 1955.

The airfield layout was significantly different back in 1961 with all of the Terminal buildings located at the centre of 6 runways that were affectively in a Star of David formation.Airlines operating from the airport at the time included BOAC and Pan American.

Facts about Terminal 3 today:

  • Over 15 million passengers travel through Terminal 3 every year, on over 76,000 flights;

  • Pier 20, Terminal 3, was specifically built  to serve the revolutionary Airbus A380 which required additional stand space due to its remarkable size. It opened in 2006 alongside the first A380 testing flights at the airport;

  • More than 45% of flights go to non-EU countries;

  • More than 33% of passengers are visiting friends and relatives;

  • Carriers include: Virgin Atlantic, Qantas, American Airlines, Emirates, Delta, Cathay Pacific, British Airways, Finnair, Japan Airlines, Maroc Air.

Heathrow Airport aerial view – circa 1960’s. Terminal 3 is at the bottom left of the picture.

Terminal 3 is one of three terminals in our Central Terminal Area. Terminal 1 closed in 2016 after 47 years. The original Terminal 2 was demolished, with a new terminal opened in 2015.

Terminal 3 and Central Terminal Area’s future…

Due to growing passenger numbers, Heathrow’s current proposed masterplan for the future includes the redevelopment of the Central Terminal Area to increase passenger capacity – including the demolition of Terminal 3 and Terminal 1.

Terminal 2 | The Queen’s Terminal will be extended to provide more passenger capacity, while in place of the old Terminal 3 a series of satellite terminals will be constructed.

This new layout will create not only new and improved passenger facilities – but the “toast-rack” layout of the airfield will allow for more efficient movements of aircraft.

Heathrow has today launched its first Christmas video campaign – “the best gift of all” – featuring two much-loved and ageing teddy bears as they arrive at the airport.

It captures tender moments between the couple; from the wife gently waking her sleeping husband in his seat, to his protective arm helping her onto the escalator. As they travel through the airport, the film – set to a classic Chas and Dave soundtrack – captures all the familiar sights and sounds of the UK’s hub airport. Finally the elderly bears emerge blinking into arrivals and we see them searching the crowds for someone. We won’t spoil the ending for you – instead you can watch the film here.

It’s the next phase of Heathrow’s brand campaign designed to mark its 70th anniversary and follows Heathrow’s First Flight that was launched to critical acclaim earlier this summer. Heathrow’s Commercial Director Jonathan Coen said, “Christmas is my favourite time of year at Heathrow – the airport is abuzz with families and friends reuniting for this special time of year.”

“We love the film and hope the bears’ journey through the airport captures that excitement you feel when walking through Heathrow arrivals into the arms of your loved ones at Christmas.” – Jonathan Coen, Heathrow Commercial Director

The campaign has been created by advertising agency Havas, with film direction by DOM&NIC through Outsider Productions and animation from The Mill.

The stars of “the best gift of all” – Edward and Doris Bair!

The piece was filmed over three days while Heathrow was fully operational with location management team, Salt overcoming the complex logistical challenges of filming across multiple terminals, on the airfield and in restricted locations to make the video a reality.

The film will be shown launched on YouTube, cinema and other social media channels.

About Heathrow

Heathrow is the UK’s hub airport, home to more than 80 airlines connecting to more than 180 destinations. Every year Heathrow welcomes over 70 million passengers with a commitment to ‘making every journey better’. Following an investment of more than £11 billion over the past 10 years, passengers have voted Heathrow the ‘Best Airport in Western Europe’ two years in a row, ‘Best Airport Terminal’ for the Terminal 5 five years in a row and ‘Best Airport for Shopping’ seven years in a row.

Today, Heathrow’s Terminal 5 opened its new Personal Shopping Lounge, unveiling the World’s Most Connected Mirror. As the appetite for sharing and feedback via social media networks continues to grow, Heathrow has responded by enabling visitors to connect with their friends on social media to get immediate feedback on desired purchases as they shop.

Passengers who book the complementary Personal Shopping service can post photos and stream live videos from the mirror in the new lounge in Terminal 5, showing their chosen items to their social community, with likes and comments appearing in the mirror’s reflection in real-time.

The launch comes as research reveals 60% of Brits that received encouragement from their online community are more satisfied with their purchase. 40% of people surveyed also say their partner’s opinion is the one they value most and men are more than twice as likely (56%) to listen to their other halves than women. Interestingly, men are also twice as likely to think their boss would be the best person to choose an item of clothing for them.

Sharon Daley, Head of Personal Shopping at Heathrow, said, “Our customers’ expectations of their shopping experience are continuously evolving. Now, they not only seek the professional support of our Personal Shoppers, but also the support of their social community too. From today, our passengers can enjoy the experience of shopping over 400 brands in the comfort of the private space and share the experience with their friends across the globe, too.”

Over 1 million passengers have used Heathrow’s Personal Shopping service since 2014..

The launch of the new Personal Shopping Lounge in Terminal 5 follows on from the success of Heathrow’s Personal Shopping service, which launched in 2014. Since launch, over one million passengers have used the free service. The bespoke Personal Shopping service is complementary and available for all passengers, complete with free Champagne, allowing shoppers to choose items from over 400 stores from across Heathrow, including Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Burberry, Zara and John Lewis.

Passengers can book the free service online with of 24 personal stylists who speak 14 languages between them. Following a brief from the client, stylists at Heathrow will pull together a bespoke selection ready for the passenger’s visit to the lounge.

Terminal 5 is home to 23 fashion and luxury brands cementing Heathrow’s reputation as the home of International fashion. Customers across the globe have voted Heathrow as the “World’s Best Airport for Shopping” seven years in a row.

Passengers can book into the new Personal Shopping Lounge to experience the World’s Most Connected Mirror at ahead of their journey.

We’ve delved into the yourHeathrow vault this Remembrance Day to help remember our former servicemen and women. Meet Stephen Lunn, a former Apache Attack Helicopter pilot for the British Army who served in Afghanistan and now works at Heathrow.

As an Apache pilot and aircraft mission commander one of my roles in Afghanistan was to provide direct fire support to troops on the ground as well as providing integral support to the Chinook force whilst they conducted their missions of picking up wounded soldiers. We provided a short notice support function 24-hours-a-day that could be called upon to provide that support or escort a Chinook in to pick up the soldiers.

There is one mission back in 2010 that will always stay with me…

Over the previous few days a dust storm had been building, reducing the visibility down to about 100 metres at best. Most of the ground operations had been called off as a result, due to the much reduced capability of any direct support from either us or the Chinook fleet.

Unfortunately, some units had already been out on patrol prior to the dust storm including a squad from the Duke of Lancashire Regiment. They had taken refuge in a small compound to weather out the storm. Whilst moving into the compound their Platoon Commander, a Captain, stepped on an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), severely wounding him. Our operations room immediately got the call and we were mobilised.

Both my back seater and I, along with the Immediate Response Team (IRT) (a Chinook crew and medics fitted out to be a flying operating theatre) ran to our aircraft to start up, even though we knew the Operations room would not want us to lift off due to the much reduced visibility. I got onto the Radio with the Commander of the Chinook, John, a pilot who I’d gone through flying training with, and came up with a plan that might enable us to make it to the wounded Captain.

I should point out the Apache Attack Helicopter is still one of the most advanced aircraft flying today. It has a multitude of devices that greatly enhance the ability of the pilot including a Forward Looking InfraRed device (FLIR) which utilises the minute differences in heat to see, instead of light, as well as an extremely accurate guidance system that feeds data directly onto a monocle over the pilots right eye.

This system allowed me to accurately see the attitude and orientation of the aircraft along with speed and heading information even if I couldn’t see anything else. The FLIR allowed me to see a little further than the naked eye and the navigation system gave me the confidence to know where I was going even though I could only see approximately 150 metres in front of the helicopter.

The plan that John and I came up with…

was for me to lead him in close formation, low to the ground, directly to the site of the wounded Captain. We formed up on the short runway at Camp Bastion and departed together. We flew at about 90knots (just over 100mph) and 80 feet, it was imperative that the Chinook not loose site of me otherwise they would have no alternative but to abort and return to Bastion utilising the Air Traffic Radar to get them in. In perspective, the Apache is normally operated at around 1500 feet due to limited armour on the aircraft.

I gave the chin mounted 30mm cannon to my back seat to control whilst I flew us to the site. We got an update from the troops on the ground and a very accurate grid reference which we entered into the computer. This put an icon in my right eye as to their location and I used this to guide the Chinook direct to the site.

We remained directly overhead whilst the troops did an amazing job of loading the injured Captain in, in about 45 seconds. I had remained at 50 feet throughout this stage as I did not want to lose sight of the Chinook because it would have been extremely difficult to form up for the return to Bastion. The Chinook lifted and formed back up with us so that we could lead them back to Bastion and the Field Hospital there.

The Captain was “medevac’d” back to the UK and his family was able to see him in hospital though regrettably he died of his wounds a few weeks later, a fact I did not find out about until 2 years later. The skill and dedication, and bravery, shown by the Chinook crew, medics and ultimately the rest of the Captain’s Platoon will remain with me. John and myself went on to help create a standard procedure for carrying out that type of escort in reduced visibility, to enhance the capability of the Apache and Chinook crews carrying out the High Readiness task.

NOTE: This article was originally published in 2013.

We’ve delved into the yourHeathrow vault this Remembrance Day to help remember our former servicemen and women. Meet former Royal Air Force Police member Paul Farmer.

Meet Paul Farmer. Paul works within Heathrow’s Campus Security as a Duty Manager. Before Heathrow, Paul served in the Royal Air Force Police for 13 years. He is married to wife Natalie and they, including their black Labrador Dexter, just welcomed daughter Annabelle to their little family.

Tell us about your Heathrow role…

As a Campus Secuirty Duty Manager, I work in a team of eight who are responsible for the coordination of the external security operation at Heathrow. The 24 hour operation involves screening at all control posts, security patrols of the airfield and responding to security incidents.

What skills did your military career allow you to bring to the HAL?

During my service I completed several roles within the RAF Police but I found Air Transport Security the most rewarding . In my early days as an RAF Policeman in Northolt I was required to provide specialist security search of all aircraft transporting the royal family, members of parliament and senior military officials. I even had the honour of flying on the aircraft to provide on the ground security at the destination.

I also served in Afghanistan tasked with screening all UK and Coalition troops flying on-board UK aircraft and provided advice on airfield and aircraft protection to senior military commanders. My final years in the RAF were at Brize Norton and RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus where I ran the airport security team to ensure aircraft and airfield security and acted as aviation security liaison to UK forces. My entire service life was spent on both on hostile and friendly airfields and so working at a large international airport seemed the natural progression for me.

What does London Poppy Day and Remembrance Day mean to you?

I have always felt strongly about Poppy and Remembrance Day as I find it humbling to look at the sacrifices men and women made during this country’s history. Sadly, I have lost friends in recent conflicts and it’s important for me to take time to reflect on their sacrifices and their impact on me. It’s important to support the work done to support the families of the fallen, as well as those who will bear the scars of war both physically and mentally for the rest of their lives.

Most enjoyable part of your role here at Heathrow?

I love how varied the role can be! I enjoy the fact that every shift is different and I always go home with different stories to tell. There is also a great team within campus and I enjoy the interaction I have with the staff. There is a lot of experience in Campus Security and we all support each other when in counts.

A fond memory…

It’s a bit cliché but it has to be the arrival of Annabelle. I have done some amazing things in my life but this topped them all!

What was your favourite thing about being in the military?

It has to be the opportunities I was given; I travelled all over the world working in some fantastic places and meeting some amazing people. There were some hard times but a great team ethic ensured we would get the job done. During my thirteen years of service, I was in a Mountain rescue team, a bobsleigh pilot, a teacher and a mentor working all over Europe and the Middle East. There aren’t many jobs that give you that!

Tell us who is your biggest hero and why?

Well, it has to be the person who has been with me through thick and thin, supported all my good and not so good ideas and endured two days of labour to give me a beautiful baby girl……my lovely wife, Natalie!

NOTE: This article was originally published in 2013.

We’ve delved into the yourHeathrow vault this Remembrance Day to help remember our former servicemen and women. Meet Stephen Lunn – a former member of the Army Air Corps for 10 years. Stephen joined Heathrow in July 2012 as a Project Manager within Development to tackle various large scale infrastructure projects.

These projects included planning for the new Rapid Exit Taxiways off the Southern Runway, and replacement and upgrading of various taxiways. Before life at Heathrow, Stephen served in various squadrons of the Army Air Corps for 10 years.

Proposing to his wife in Victoria Falls being his fondest memory to date, Stephen is today happily married to his wife Katherine.

What skills did your military career allow you to bring to the Heathrow?

The military gave me a wide and varied skill set which has served me well in my transition into Heathrow. As a pilot in the military I obtained a sound understanding of aviation, which provided solid grounding for me to build on here. Organisation and planning were fundamental to my role as a Squadron Flight Commander and then Operations Officer and these skills are essential for my current project management position.

What does London Poppy Day and Remembrance Day mean to you?

Remembrance day is a chance to think about and reflect on what people sacrificed in the past to allow us enjoy the life we have now. Remembrance Day now means so much more to me having spent time away on operations and seeing first-hand people, and friends, making that ultimate sacrifice for our country. It is a small thing to pause and reflect on what people have given and the Poppy Appeal is an amazing way to aid those that have suffered in the defence of us and our country.

Most enjoyable part of your role here at Heathrow?

Heathrow is a vibrant place and the people that work here all share in this vibrancy. It is the people of Heathrow that I’ve found to be one of the most enjoyable parts of working here as everyone is working towards the same goal… making Heathrow work.

What was your favourite thing about being in the military?

The best part of the Military is the friendship. No friendship will be greater than those formed whilst being shot at and through living in each other pockets under some strange circumstances. It is the true feeling of brothers in arms, you have an immediate affiliation to people even if you’ve only just met. Everyone is generally on the same wavelength, so there are plenty of laughs.

Why do you wear a Poppy or who do you wear one for?

I wear a poppy for a number of reasons including to personally remember the friends and colleagues that gave the ultimate sacrifice, as well as those that did not survive whilst I was flying overhead giving support. I also wear it as a sign of respect for all those that came before me – the thousands of soldiers that have been in the forces and fought in our wars. One thing that I will always remember is the weight of history that you feel when taking the Queens Commission.

NOTE: This article was originally published in 2013.

To help pay our respects on Remembrance Day, we’ve dug into the yourHeathrow vault and taken a look at some of our own Heathrow colleagues who served in the armed forces. Meet Rachel Thomas – a former Royal Air Force member who is now in our Flight Performance Unit.

Heathrow’s long association with the military dates back to World War II when the government requested land in the agricultural village of Heath Row be a base for long-range troop-carrying aircraft.

Rachel has worked in various roles in the Airside Air Traffic Management Team since joining Heathrow in 2012. Her focus now is on airspace and noise, ensuring that any proposed changes are fully evaluated and assessed and to drive us towards the UK Future Airspace Strategy. Prior to Heathrow, she served as an Air Traffic Controller in the Royal Air Force for 25 years. As a wife and mother of two adult sons, Rachel’s heroes are her parents as they inspired her to achieve in life.

Tell us about your role...

As a Noise and Flight Advisor in Airside Operations my work is mainly about reducing the impacts of noise and air quality from aircraft in the air and on the ground.

What skills did your military career allow you to bring to Heathrow?

Working under pressure, ability to cope in an ever changing environment, ability to prioritise, airspace knowledge of the London Terminal Management Area and issues affecting the performance of airfields.

What does London Poppy Day and Remembrance Day mean to you?

It’s a chance to stand up and recognise the armed forces and veterans and an opportunity to educate and to reflect.

A fond memory…

I have many, but if it’s job related it was saving lives as an Emergency Controller in the Distress and Diversion Cell.

What was your favourite thing about being in the military?

The challenge, the opportunities and the friendship – always a brilliant job!

Who do you wear your Poppy for?

I was lucky to have no immediate family member die in WW1 or WW2, but one grandfather served at the Somme and the other was involved in D-Day, so I wear it for them and their colleagues who did pay the ultimate price. I also wear it for those veterans who are still with us today, including both of my parents who served in the 1950s, and those still serving – and also to inspire the next generation to serve, which will hopefully include my youngest son as he is applying to join the Royal Marines.

Over 6.5 million passengers travelled via Heathrow in October while cargo volumes surged 7%, results released today show. The strong results follow the Government’s announcement in October that it is supporting Heathrow expansion as its preferred option.

Headlining the cargo growth are particularly strong increases to fast-growing markets in Latin America and East Asia (Mexico up 28%, China up 21% and Brazil up 18%). Trade with India, the world’s fastest growing large economy, also increased in October with cargo up 3.1% as the Prime Minister returned from her first bilateral overseas visit to forge a new global role for the UK (Find out what the UK’s top 5 exports to India via Heathrow are, here).

Emerging market passenger growth was also strong, with Mexico up 9.4%, East Asia up 2.8% and India up 2.1% – evidence that demand to fly from the UK’s front door remains strong.

Larger, quieter and more efficient aircraft continued to be a driver for growth in passenger volumes which are up 0.5% year-to-date in 2016 as airlines deploy more and more new generation Airbus A380s, A350s and Boeing 787s at Heathrow. Overall passenger volumes for October were down 1.2% over the same month last year due in part to cancellations stemming from Hurricane Matthew in the United States

Government announces support for new runway at Heathrow

In a major boost for the UK economy, the Government announced its support for a new runway at Heathrow – the first full-length runway in the south east since the second world war. The decision to back Heathrow and expand the country’s biggest port underlined the UK’s ‘open for business’ credentials. The Government will begin consulting on a draft national policy statement in early 2017.

Britain’s supply chain benefitted from an immediate boost following the Government’s decision as Heathrow confirmed £50m of contracts would be issued before the end of 2017. In fact, 95% of Heathrow’s procurement spend on expansion will be with the British supply chain, 60% of which will be outside London.

Heathrow’s Skills Taskforce – chaired by Lord Blunkett – held its inaugural meeting in October. The Taskforce is composed of experts drawn from business, unions and education and aims to deliver a third runway with a long-term skills legacy for local communities.

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said, “In October, the Prime Minister sent a clear message to the world that her Government would expand Heathrow, showing that Britain is open for business and confident in its future.”

“With the support of communities across the UK, Heathrow is now working at pace to deliver the benefits of Britain’s new runway – an affordable plan that creates more jobs, boosts exporters and builds an economy that is stronger and fairer for everyone – as quickly as possible.” Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye


By Heathrow

Published 10th November 2016