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Implications Of LGW Losing Dedicated Shuttle  
User currently offlineNedguy From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2004, 13 posts, RR: 0
Posted (11 years 8 months 22 hours ago) and read 2368 times:

So, the Gatwick Express is to cease being a dedicated airport shuttle, and instead be absorbed into the mainline schedules on the London Brighton line (Strategic Rail Authority proposal published yesterday).

It'll be interesting to see all those airline passengers (plus luggage) struggle on board a London-bound train already packed with commuters in the morning rush hour. Not to mention watching international passengers at Victoria trying to work out which train to catch in order to get to LGW and then compete with ordinary passengers in the run down the platform.

I think this is a major downgrading for LGW as a London airport. Am I alone?

20 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineBCAL From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2004, 3384 posts, RR: 14
Reply 1, posted (11 years 8 months 22 hours ago) and read 2321 times:

It is naturally a blow that LGW might lose the Gatwick Express but I think the company that runs the service might have dug its own grave. The single fare from London Victoria to Gatwick Airport is £12 on the Gatwick Express and £8 on Southern Railways. The Gatwick Express is a non-stop service whereas Southern Railways trains stop at some stations (normally only East Croydon), so the 50% extra is a high premium to pay.

Sometimes I wonder who the Strategic Rail Authority represents - Stop Rail Advantages? A few years back I was a commuter on the Brighton/London line. Nothing was more annoying to commuters, normally asleep or reading their newspapers in early hours of the morning, than stopping at Gatwick Airport when hordes of people got on the trains with all their luggage (often blocking the aisles and doors) and shouting in different languages. They were probably equally annoyed at sleeping, unhelpful commuters, and equally rude railway staff. That must be a good welcome to the UK. Tourists and commuters have to be kept separate. If the railway operators or regulatory bodies think otherwise, then clearly they do not know their jobs.

The loss of the Gatwick Express will be a major downgrading for LGW. But with limited expansion available at LGW, could this be a ploy to force airlines to start services at Stansted?

MOL on SRB's latest attack at BA: "It's like a little Chihuahua barking at a dying Labrador. Nobody cares."
User currently offlineBENNETT123 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2004, 9130 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (11 years 8 months 22 hours ago) and read 2311 times:

I normally catch the train from Reading.

No, you are not alone, it is a downgrade.

User currently offlineRutankrd From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2003, 3377 posts, RR: 4
Reply 3, posted (11 years 8 months 21 hours ago) and read 2290 times:
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Where do they say that the dedicated services are to end ?
What the statement seems to say is that The SCHEDULED and line management would be merged rather than being a separate operations on the same set of lines!
Seem sensible to manage line capacity!
Their remains dedicated GATWICK-VICTORIA services using the purposely designed rolling stock and as far as the traveling and paying public are concerned the product remains the same at the front end !
Slowly but surely the RAIL service is being re-integrated into a NATIONAL network that might actually work once more !
At some point this noncensical Sudo Privatised railway might just return to a properly organised public service operation me thinks.

User currently offlineShamrock_747 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (11 years 8 months 21 hours ago) and read 2264 times:

Adding commuters from south of LGW and East Croydon onto GatEx services will be a complete nightmare, but the fact is those paths on the Brighton Mainline are very valuable and will have to be intergrated if we are to get a much needed capacity increase.

The proposal includes increasing GatEx to every 10 minutes, 12 car formations, adding an East Croydon stop and extension to coastal towns. It'll be interesting to see if it goes ahead.

User currently offlineNedguy From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2004, 13 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (11 years 8 months 21 hours ago) and read 2230 times:

Rutankrd, you ask "Where do they say that the dedicated services are to end ?"

Section 7.2.1 Page 31 of the SRA's document outlines Option 1...

"It involves restructuring the Gatwick Express service from four trains per hour to six trains per hour, calling additonally to East Croydon and running on to coastal destinations (2 to Brighton, 1 each to Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, Portsmouth and Southampton)"

That sounds like the end of a dedicated non-stop service to me.

I don't like it, but I don't have a problem with understanding the reasons for it. The government doesn't have the cash, or doesn't want to spend it to expand the overall capacity, so the proposal is to spread the load by sacrificing GatEx. My question is, does anybody not think this is a body blow to LGW's status and how big a blow do we think it is?

User currently offlineSrbrenna From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2004, 100 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (11 years 8 months 20 hours ago) and read 2219 times:

Yes - this is a downgrade but the Gatwick Express is only convenient if you are travelling from Central London. Even the Heathrow Express is not that much better either. A good percentage of those flying from LGW, LHR and even STN live in or around London (the rest being those who fly to London and want to get back!) and you have to question their effectiveness vs cost.

I am flying LGW - BOD on 11th Sept and it is far easier and cheaper to drive to LGW from West London than to get the tube to Victoria (£2.50 each way) and the Gatwick Express (£12). When you take into account that there are 2 of us travelling and that it is more expensive and more hassle to take public transport then it becomes a no brainer.

If I can join a more regular train to Gatwick that avoids having to go to Victoria then I might be tempted. But I doubt it.

I have to say that it is good for tourists having a quick way into London though.

User currently offlineGeoffm From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2004, 2111 posts, RR: 6
Reply 7, posted (11 years 8 months 20 hours ago) and read 2182 times:

I fail to see why this is a problem. So there are more trains to more destinations, oh and your journey to Victoria might take 2 minutes longer. Big deal. As has already been pointed out, not everybody wants to go to Victoria anyway.

Heathrow Express is planning to start a stopping service. There will still be the existing non-stop services, but they plan to intersperse these with trains that call at a few of the local stations. This is subject to getting paths, since all stopping trains will have to use the single flyover at Airport Junction, and will have to mingle with the existing services on the Slow lines.

Geoff M.

User currently offlineMas777 From United Kingdom, joined Jul 1999, 2939 posts, RR: 6
Reply 8, posted (11 years 8 months 20 hours ago) and read 2144 times:

As a resident of Brighton (well - Hove, actually  Big thumbs up ) - this is EXCELLENT news but I have yet to read the articles so will comment in a mo once I have found them... The Gatwick Express is only quicker by a few minutes from the regular Network SouthCentral services anyway. The new rolling-stock does take luggage quite well (as oppose to the older slam-door trains) and once you add the Gatwick Express rolling stock on to the Brighton Mainline - we can get rid of those nasty trains circa 1950s - so seems a fantastic idea to me...

User currently offlineFlyLondon From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2004, 391 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (11 years 8 months 20 hours ago) and read 2133 times:

These are only draft proposals and by no means definate.

Some links to the story:


User currently offlineMas777 From United Kingdom, joined Jul 1999, 2939 posts, RR: 6
Reply 10, posted (11 years 8 months 20 hours ago) and read 2131 times:

Well read the article here :


and I can't see anything wrong with it. Seems this should have been done years ago.

LGW is also Brighton and Hove's main airport and regular travellers like myself have always had to try stuffing our luggage in the aisles of the old slam-door trains in the past - so its about time that we had a decent Airport service too.


User currently offlineB-HOP From Hong Kong, joined Nov 2000, 726 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (11 years 8 months 19 hours ago) and read 2111 times:

Compare this with leaving Heathrow using the tube in a cold winter morning after a 13 hour flight from Hong Kong. You are jetlagged whilst everyosy else stares at you. how could you encourage people using public transport when the service is like that.


Live life to max!!!
User currently offlineFlyCaledonian From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2003, 2278 posts, RR: 3
Reply 12, posted (11 years 8 months 8 hours ago) and read 1973 times:

'one' Stansted Express seems to manage okay with stopping services from Liverpool Street picking up additional passengers, and nor is it a separate franchise (Being part of the ludicrously named 'one' railway, while Manchester has to be the best rail connected airport in the country with services to a whole host of destinations.

The issue with Gatwick Express will be if commuters from Brighton and the other Sussex Coast towns view this as a quicker option (i.e. less stops) to get to London, thus increasing overcrowding on what is primarily an airport shuttle. I know the plan for the Heathrow stopping service is to advertise them at Paddington as going to Staines, but as going to Heathrow from the stations in between, while on departure from Heathrow the final destination will not be given as Paddington.

The proposals need looking at, but if Gatwick Express needs to avoid becoming simply a commuter service that also serves an airport as an intermediate stop.

Let's Go British Caledonian!
User currently offlineN1120a From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 29208 posts, RR: 73
Reply 13, posted (11 years 8 months 6 hours ago) and read 1908 times:

Well, if they do integrate Gatwick Express services with the existing Southern services it will probably still have seperate fares to discourage pass holders from using it. It will not really be any faster for Brighton commuters, as they already have the Brighton Express that only stops at Clapham Junction, East Croydon or both. The Gatwick express could be, theoretically, slower than that. I think it is cool that they will have fast trains from Hants, as that will make going international an easier proposition.
I think the real loser here is National Express. They own WAGN and got the "one" contract out of Liverpool St., but they had controlled airport express group and now seem to be losing it. Additionally, the Heathrow Stopping Service will be operated by First Great Western (Link?) and not HEX. What ever happened to the Eurostar Heathrow extension?
The moral of this story is that the UK needs to stop subsidising the rich people who own these "rail companies" and all that is left is one question. Why are there so many damn trains to East Croydon? =)

Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
User currently offlineMas777 From United Kingdom, joined Jul 1999, 2939 posts, RR: 6
Reply 14, posted (11 years 7 months 4 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 1863 times:

I agree - Brighton and Hove and other Sussex towns down here already have excellent fast trains running up to London. There just aren't enough of them!

It can take me just over an hour door-to-door to get from my flat in Hove to my parents' place in South Kensington - sometimes beating others travelling across London to get to my parents by tube - so the Gatwick Express extension will NOT replace the current services for speed but the aim is to complement and provide extra train services from the South Coast.

User currently offlineShamrock_747 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (11 years 7 months 4 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 1821 times:

GatEx only have eight Juniper units, and considering the problems with them I doubt they will order any more of the same design. Obviously more rolling stock would be needed from somewhere.

Mas777 - the replacements for the old slam door stock are already coming into service with Southern Railway, the last of them should be gone by the end of next year.

User currently offlineGeoffm From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2004, 2111 posts, RR: 6
Reply 16, posted (11 years 7 months 4 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 1720 times:

"Additionally, the Heathrow Stopping Service will be operated by First Great Western (Link?) and not HEX."

First I've heard of the stopping service being operated by fGW. HEX have been to our company to discuss the practicalities of such a service, so I doubt they are doing it on behalf of fGW.

"What ever happened to the Eurostar Heathrow extension?"

Never heard of it. Perhaps you mean the Eurostar going into St Pancras (as it will be very soon), from where there are to be *seperate* trains direct to Heathrow (which is longer term)?

Geoff M.

User currently offlineWorldoftui From Sweden, joined Aug 2007, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (11 years 7 months 4 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 1702 times:

I had heard that they were considering opening out-of-use tracks that are near LHR to link the airport mainline station to the Waterloo - Reading line. Would be good news to people traveling in from the west, including me in Reading. A train straight through, rather than a coach fighting its way down the M4.

I think that Gatwick has to be one of the best UK airport in terms for its connections to the rail network, although BHX is excellent as well. Certainly the most conveniently placed station too. I know SOU is close, but such a crappy station.

Not quite sure what the outcome of this change will be, but given the current plight of commuters on that line, any change will be a good one.


User currently offlineN1120a From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 29208 posts, RR: 73
Reply 18, posted (11 years 7 months 3 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 1575 times:

A train using the W'loo-Reading line would be going the long way around for LHR. I found out about the FGW stopping service from a First GW executive at Twyford when they first started FGW Link.
GEX still runs their older dedicated stock, especially during the week, so I am guessing they would run all the Jupiters, plus the old trains to run a 6 times per hour service. I still don't see why these trains need to stop at East Croydon (I prefer Clapham Junction, as Battersea is my London home). I have been on Brighton Express services in the morning and afternoon that were not anywhere near capacity, then again I was riding down to Brighton in the morning and back in the afternoon. I do think that this is a loss for passengers, especially if the GEX service is already full of commuters from Brighton, who I bet will take advantage of the fact that the trains have luggage racks. It would just be an enormous headache to come off an 8-12 hour flight, only to have to stand for half an hour with no place to put your bag. Also, considering all the revenue protection interests that the Rail Companies practice, would they still have the BOB no penalty service they have now?

Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
User currently offlineGeoffm From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2004, 2111 posts, RR: 6
Reply 19, posted (11 years 7 months 3 weeks 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 1528 times:

N1120a, it appears we were both correct. HEX have ordered 4 more units to cover the stopping service, and they will maintain the trains. However, between Paddington and Hayes, the train will operate as a domestic service and fGWL will reap the rewards; between Hayes and Heathrow HEX (ie BAA) will get the fares. Quite what involvement fGWL have is unclear, but perhaps they will provide on-board staff on those services only.

Jupiters... I think you mean Junipers.

The Waterloo/Reading connection is designed for Reading travellers, ie from the west, not from Waterloo. I doubt it would even be connected in the London direction.

TUI - That little used freight line to the west of Heathrow is for an oil terminal. It connects to the Great Western main line in the wrong direction for Reading... not sure about the land around there, whether a third leg can be built making it into a triangular junction. You're right though, that's something they've been thinking about.

Last proposals I heard were that T5 would be a four-platform station - two for HEX; two for Piccadilly tube. When/if the connection to the west opens, whether it be to Feltham or to the GWML, the station would be expanded to 6 platforms.

Geoff M.

User currently offlineBabybus From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (11 years 7 months 3 weeks 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 1494 times:

As someone who often has to wait at East Croydon for a train to LGW I would say that the idea of getting the GatEx to stop at E.Croydon is really welcomed. It's annoying seeing the empty train ripping past when it could stop and pick us up. Adding Clapham Jct and E.Croydon to the route is a big bonus for us south Londoners. The Narita Express stops at a couple of places on its way into Tokyo so why not the GatEx.

The fares on the GatEx and Heathrow Express are far too high and not worth the money.

Hopefully, in the future, there will be better bus services to LGW picking up pax in south London. At the moment it's just the train,a cab or your car to get you there.

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