Gatwick Express

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File:Gatwick express logo.gif
Franchise(s): Gatwick Express
Main Route(s): London Victoria - Gatwick Airport
Other Route(s): None
Fleet size: 8
Stations: 2
Parent company: National Express Group
Web site:

Gatwick Express is the brand name of a National Express Group-operated railway service offering a frequent shuttle service between Victoria station in London and Gatwick Airport in South East England.


The service is non-stop and runs every 15 minutes with an average journey time of 30 minutes. The firm operates eight Class 460 trains on dedicated services to the airport. Gatwick Express, unlike Heathrow Express, is part of the National Rail network.

An Express Class (standard class) Single ticket costs £14.90 (as of January 2007). This price is higher than those of the Southern and First Capital Connect stopping services, reflecting the faster non-stop service that the Gatwick Express offers. Passengers cannot travel on Gatwick Express using the Network Railcard discount.


In 1975, the British Airports Authority airport director, John Mulkern, the chairman of British Caledonian Airways, Adam Thomson (later knighted), and the regional manager of British Rail’s Southern Region, Bob Read, formed the Gatwick Liaison Group to discuss matters of mutual interest. As a subsidiary of this, the Gatwick Promotion Group, under the chairmanship of the airport public relations manager David Hurst, was formed to market the airport. One of the first successes of the group was to persuade the board of British Rail to redevelop Gatwick station by building a raft over the platforms and this was opened by the BR chairman, Sir Peter Parker, in 1980. It was a long term aim of the group to have a non-stop service between the airport and central London in order to counter the perceived distance from the capital both to the UK market and more especially to the potential passengers at the overseas destinations. The first success was to brand the then current service which stopped at East Croydon as the Rapid City Link. This clumsy name was used as Adam Thomson strongly maintained that US passengers equated ‘express’ with buses. However in 1984 the non-stop Gatwick Express service was started with ten units of reconditioned rolling stock with extra luggage space. A 30-minute journey time was advertised although it was recognised that some journeys would take nearer 35 minutes, especially in rush hours. The first unit was taken on a promotional tour of the UK introducing it to travel agents in various centres, thought to be the first time a Southern Region train had travelled north. A visit to Scotland was ruled out because of union objections.

The original services were formed with Class 73 rolling stock and Mk2 coaching stock with specially modified GLV (Goods Luggage Vans) to carry passenger luggage.

In 2006, following the introduction of the modern fleet, the final Class 73 service ran an evening service from London Victoria and back to mark the end of the era for these trains. You can find an example of Mk2 coaching stock previously used on the service at the Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre in Ruddington.

From the end of 2004 to 2006 there was controversy surrounding the service with some rail groups believing that Gatwick Express trains, which often run half-full, made poor use of the limited capacity on some of the busiest train lines in the country. The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) made proposals for the Gatwick Express service to be incorporated into existing London to Brighton mainline services operated by Southern in an attempt to relieve commuter congestion. This idea was hotly disputed by the train operator as well as BAA, who feared that airport users would have to fight for space on the trains with commuters.


On 3 February 2006, the Department for Transport Rail Group (which took over the responsibilities of the SRA in summer 2005) announced that the service will indeed be axed to free up space on the Brighton Main Line. Instead of nonstop trains, the service replacing the Express would make additional stops en-route to help commuter traffic along the line. It is still yet to be decided if the name Gatwick Express will remain part of the new service and if the Gatwick Express franchise will be ended and the trains transferred to Southern. Originally this was due to take effect on 11 December 2006, but has been delayed as train operators in the region couldn't find the stock to meet the new timetable.[1]

In 2005 a pair of Class 458 units, 458001 and 458002, transferred from South West Trains for use as a spare train if a 460 unit is out of action. They remained in South West Trains livery but with Gatwick Express branding. Their seating was modified from high density 3+2 seating configuration to 2+2 configuration, some seating was removed and replaced with luggage racks. The units will return to South West Trains service by the end of 2006 for service on the London Waterloo - Reading and Guildford - Ascot lines.


London-Gatwick is the only journey on the UK National Rail network for which passengers are required to choose between different operators when buying tickets — on all other flows shared by different National Rail operators tickets for immediate travel are inter-available, although some restrictions may apply on cheaper tickets. Through tickets for which the London-Gatwick line is part of a permitted route are valid on the Gatwick Express, provided they are not endorsed "NOT GATWICK EXPRESS." Tickets from London to stations south of Gatwick generally bear this restriction. Passengers cannot travel on Gatwick Express using the Network Railcard discount for South East England.

See also


External links

Wikimedia Commons
has media related to:
Gatwick Express
Domestic: Arriva Trains Wales - c2c - Central Trains - Chiltern Railways - First Capital Connect
First Great Western - First ScotRail - Grand Central1 - GNER - Heathrow Connect
Hull Trains - Island Line2 - Merseyrail - Midland Mainline - Northern Rail
Northern Ireland Railways3 - 'one' - Silverlink - Southeastern - Southern
South West Trains - TransPennine Express - Virgin Trains
International: Enterprise3 - Eurostar
Airport Link: Gatwick Express - Heathrow Express - Stansted Express4
Sleeper: Caledonian Sleeper5 - Night Riviera6
1 Starts 20 May 2007 - 2 Operated by South West Trains - 3 Operated on the Irish railway network
4 Operated by 'one' - 5 Operated by First ScotRail - 6 Operated by First Great Western

Future passenger train operators in Great Britain
New Franchises: Cross Country1 - East Midlands1 - InterCity East Coast - London Overground1
West Midlands1
Proposed open-access
Grand Union2 - Wrexham & Shropshire3
1 Starts November 2007 - 2 Proposed - 3 Awaiting Approval

cs:Gatwick Express fr:Gatwick Express nl:Gatwick Express de:Gatwick_Express