London London LHR train travel transportation

London Heathrow Terminal 5 to Terminal 2-3 free train transfer and LHR Underground exhibit

a card on a black surface
London Heathrow free train transfer ticket between terminals

One of the pleasant features of a 13:05 departure flight to Iceland from London Heathrow Terminal 2 is I had no hurry to reach the gate after arriving from Windsor by local public bus at 10:30 in the morning.

No time crunch for reaching my flight gate meant I could focus on the process of transferring by free train from London Heathrow Terminal 5 to Terminal 2-3, also known as Heathrow Central.

a black wall with blue letters
LHR Terminal 5 Bus Stand Art
a group of buses in a parking lot
London Heathrow Coach Stands at Terminal 5

National Express from London Luton Airport LTN dropped me off the day before at Heathrow Central Bus Station at Terminals 2 & 3. The bus to Windsor departed from LHR Terminal 5 Stand 8. I would make the next bus to Windsor if I could make the transfer in 23 minutes. And I made it.

Finding myself back at Heathrow Terminal 5 bus stands the next morning, I had no time constraint to reach Terminal 2 for my Icelandair flight. Here is a photo essay of the transfer from T5 to T2.

a glass roof with signs and a sign in the middle
LHR Terminal 5 Underground sign and Free Transfer to LHR 2, 3, 4 train

The first sign inside Terminal 5 is a little confusing. The arrow for London Underground points one direction and ‘Trains to London’ and ‘Terminals 2,3,4 via Free train transfer’ points to elevators.

I did not recall ever making the free train transfer between terminals before. Usually I am taking the Underground directly from LHR T5 or LHR T2,3 to London or London to one of the terminals.

a close up of a elevator
London Heathrow Terminal 5 elevator to free train transfer to Terminals 2, 3, 4 on -2 Level.

Following signs to the Terminals 2, 3, 4 transfer leads to the entry point where you need to get a free ticket from one of the staff standing about. Most of the people entering the station were using other types of cards and not the free paper ticket card. When I arrived the day before there were two staff standing at the ticket gates handing out free ticket cards, but when I arrived this time I had to ask a staffer walking away to do something else for the ticket.

a blue and white card with a blue and white label
London Heathrow free train transfer ticket between terminals

The ticket is inserted into the gate slot and pop outs as the gate opens.

a close up of a ticket
LHR London Heathrow free train transfer ticket between terminals

Heathrow Express

The cool aspect of the free train transfer is the chance to ride on the Heathrow Express for the short distance between Terminal 5 and Heathrow Terminal 2 & 3. Heathrow Express then continues onward nonstop from Terminal 2 & 3 to Paddington Station in 15 minutes. Heathrow Express has many ticket discount options. A Duo ticket is

Heathrow Express Flexible fares

The Express Saver single fare is £25 if travelling during our peak times (06.30am – 09.30am or 4pm – 7pm Monday – Friday) or £22 if travelling during off-peak times. Returns are £37.

DuoSaver Express Saver return journey for two for just £55.50

Advance Ticket Prices can drop the one way ticket price as low as £5.50 one way.

I have walked around the Paddington area and enjoy the canal walks, but not yet stayed in a hotel in that area of London.

London Underground is a far cheaper ticket price with an Oyster Card at £3.10 one way to London from Heathrow Airport (£5.10 peak 6:30-9:30 Mon-Fri). The single ticket cash price is £6.00. A new Oyster card can be purchased at Heathrow Underground ticket offices for a £5.00 refundable deposit.

London Underground Piccadilly line takes longer at 45 to 50 minutes between Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3 or Terminal 5 and the city center to Hyde Park Corner or Green Park stations.

a train with seats and a door
Heathrow Express train car
a purple light on a ceiling
Heathrow Express carriage lighting
a tv on a wall
Heathrow Express luggage area and toilets
a purple and white seats on a bus
Heathrow Express posh cushion seats

The glamorous free ride on Heathrow Express ended after five minutes when I arrived at Terminals 2 & 3 station.

Insert the free train transfer ticket into the gate kiosk to exit. The kiosk keeps the ticket, so no souvenir from Heathrow Express.

Begin ‘The Long Walk’ to the actual airport terminal check-in and security area.

Heathrow and London Underground 1977-2017

After exiting the Heathrow Express Central Station area, I walked by a display on the history of the  London Underground at Heathrow Airport with a series of six posters.

a blue sign with white text
Heathrow and London Underground poster 1 of 6.
a poster on a wall
Heathrow and London Underground poster 2 of 6.

London Underground History

Extension of the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow Airport

now under construction

“This 1971 poster, designed by Tom Eckersley, promoted the initial Piccadilly line extension to Heathrow, which opened in phases from 1975 to 1977. The line was extended again when Heathrow Terminal 4 station opened in 1986, and Heathrow Terminal 5 station opened in 2008.”

Find out more at

a close-up of a poster

Opening day at the station December 16, 1977

a poster on a wall
Heathrow and London Underground poster 3 of 6.

“The opening day of the station was a grand affair, complete with a ‘finish line’ ribbon adorning the tracks. Queen Elizabeth II was a guest in the cab of a train operated by Charles Belcher as it made the short journey from Hatton Cross to Heathrow Central. Her majesty was joined by J Graeme Bruce, the Chief Operating Manager of Railways for the Underground.

On the front of the train, you can see a light-up destination indicator that says “Heathrow” with an icon of a plane. These have since been replaced with digital indicators that can be programmed by the train operator at the start and end of each trip.”

Fly the Tube

a poster on a wall
Heathrow and London Underground poster 4 of 6

Fly the Tube

Take the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow Airport.

It’s the only way to fly.

“Promoting the Heathrow extension

This poster was displayed on the Underground network in 1978, the year after Heathrow Central station opened. It features the livery of several planes used at the time, including the Concorde, famed for its supersonic speeds.”

a book cover with a train
Heathrow Underground ‘Fly the Tube’ poster

Heathrow Underground – Many Happy Returns

a poster on a wall
Heathrow and London Underground poster 5 of 6

Many Happy Returns

Now fly straight from train to plane, no queuing, no fuss, with a return rail ticket. Buy a return ticket to Heathrow Central or through to Gatwick Airport from your local Underground station and you can use the return half up to one month later.*

*Not available at stations west of Acton Town for travel to Heathrow Central.

All other London Underground return tickets are valid on the day of issue only.

Now it’s even easier to fly the tube.

Promoting the Heathrow extension.

The headline of this 1981 advertisement may look odd to today’s customers; it uses a font other than the Underground’s bespoke Johnston typeface.”

a poster with a train and planes
Many Happy Returns

The Heathrow Connection

a poster on the wall
Heathrow and London Underground poster 6 of 6

The Heathrow Connection

Takes 45 minutes from Central London. Links directly with Terminals 1, 2, and 3.

Fly the Tube.

Promoting the Heathrow extension

In 1983, the Underground used an illustration from the ad agency ‘Foote Cone and Belding’ showing people alighting from a Piccadilly line train onto a plane. The red roundel is today better associated with Transport for London’s bus service.”

a poster of a plane
The Heathrow Connection 1983 poster

Taking a few seconds to closely examine some of the displays in airport surroundings is like deconstructing a brick in the wall of travel. I find opening my eyes can lead to interesting discoveries when not simply rushing through an airport like London Heathrow to get to some other place quickly.