Heathrow is keeping a secret; ok, not a secret to some people, but to the majority of the UK it is a secret. Would you have believed that beneath Heathrow’s latest Terminal 5 there is an underground railway station? Well, that’s right, there is, not that it is in use!
While nearly 80 million passengers walk through the terminal every year, below their feet is a deserted underground railway station that is the length of 33 London buses. The station was built in 2008, the same time the Terminal 5 was launched, yet it has never been completed and it is not open.
The cavernous space, huge platforms and incomplete lighting give the station an undeniable ‘ghost-like’ appearance; a distinctive eerie silence would greet you and your feet would echo as walked through the platform. Currently served by the Piccadilly line, the underground station was built in anticipation of the Southern Rail Access link to the airport, as well as new rail links from three other areas – North via HS2, East via Crossrail and Western Rail Access – and at some point will become part of the National Rail network.
There is still a lot of work to be completed before the station would become fully functional. As well as a good proportion of building work that needs to be finished, lighting to be completed, passenger gateways and signage, it also needs the essential tracks and signals so the station is a fair way off being ready to open; in fact, Heathrow predict it will be operational any time between 2020 and 2030. Perhaps they’re looking to launch this underground station at the same time as a new runway, should they get the decision from the government.
So, as their latest Fly Quiet league tables, released this week, find that quieter, newer planes, such as the Boeing Dreamliner, are in operation with Virgin Airlines leading the way in keeping their airplanes and flying operations in line with ‘noise preferential routes’, little do they know that below one of the busiest airports in the world is a deserted underground railway station. And next time you walk through Terminal 5 to fly out on holidays or greet a loved one, how many times will you think of what’s below your feet?
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