Tuesday, June 23, 1998 Published at 06:40 GMT 07:40 UK
Heathrow Express takes off
The Heathrow Express uses purpose-built, modern trains
The prime minister climbed on board Britain's latest high-speed railway when he launched a new express link between London and Heathrow.
The privately-financed rail connection slashes the journey time from the West End to Heathrow airport from nearly an hour to just 15 minutes.
Aimed at business travellers, the 100mph service runs every 15 minutes and is expected to draw six million passengers a year. Estimates say it remove 3,000 vehicles a day on the roads to Heathrow.
It has been called the most expensive railway in the world and costs more per mile than a trip on Concorde.
Airport operator BAA - which has built the link - has defended the price, saying the service is mainly pitched at business executives and that £10 is a competitive figure.
Mr Blair's involvement in the launch has also come under fire from Friends of the Earth, which has accused him returning favours to BAA and British Airways.
The environmental group said he was making a "celebratory appearance" as part of a "series of favours" Labour was giving in return for the two firms' financial support for the Millennium Dome.
The service is made up of 14 purpose-built trains which seat up to 400 people and provide extensive storage space for luggage. Passengers can watch a television news service on board, supplied by the BBC.
The trains arrive at a station serving terminals 1, 2 and 3 at Heathrow, before going on to a new terminal 4 station in another five to six minutes.
The trains run along 12 miles of electrified track from Paddington before entering a five-mile tunnel that sweeps under the airport to the new stations.
Hand luggage-only plane passengers travelling with British Airways, British Midland and American Airlines can check in at Paddington.