A PERSONAL rapid transit line is under construction at London Heathrow airport to link the business class car parks with the new Terminal 5.

Airport owner BAA is investing £25m in the 3·8 km line, and has taken 'a significant shareholding' in PRT technology company ATA Ltd, which sees the system as having applications for metro feeder lines and at shopping complexes.

A fleet of 18 four-seat rubber-tyred driverless pods is being built by ARRC, which specialises in small-batch prototyping work for automotive companies. Onboard lasers will steer the cars along the 1·5 m wide segregated guideways at up to ?40 km/h, without needing to make physical contact with the kerbs. The operating concept is closer to an elevator than a conventional peoplemover, with cars running on demand. Opening is planned for 2009, around a year after Terminal 5 itself.