Belfast Telegraph

Heathrow bosses lose High Court fight over Crossrail access charges

Heathrow Airport chiefs have lost a High Court challenge over access charges they can can levy on Crossrail trains travelling to the airport.

The airport spent £1 billion building a five-mile spur 20 years ago to connect Heathrow to the Great Western track.

Legal action was triggered after the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) decided the amount which Heathrow Airport Ltd could charge Crossrail, and others, for using the spur could not include any amount connected to the recovery of the spur building costs.

The airport applied for a judicial review at London's High Court, arguing the decision was irrational and ORR had no power to reach any decision over the access charge at all.

Mr Justice Ouseley ruled on Friday the challenge failed on all grounds.

The judge refused permission to appeal, but the airport can still ask the Court of Appeal itself to hear the case.

A Heathrow spokesman said: "We are disappointed with today's ruling and are considering our next steps.

"Both Heathrow and Network Rail agree that track access charges must be fair to encourage future private investment in the rail network."

The spokesman said the airport was " committed to increasing sustainable public transport to the airport - that's why we invested in Crossrail, built the Heathrow Express rail service, support Piccadilly line services to the airport, and subsidise Europe's largest free bus network."

Heathrow is counting on the arrival of Crossrail in May 2018 as part of its plans to treble Heathrow's rail capacity by 2040.

But the High Court decision has raised questions over whether the stance taken by ORR risks discouraging future private investment in the railway network.