Gatwick Express services

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Robbies

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In the Rail Magazine dated 8th August there is an article that the new owners of Gatwick Airport are loosing the GatEX service, to become semi fast Brighton services run by class 442's which are older than the fit for purpose class 460's.

Now, my question should owners of Airports have more say on what type of trains are run to their airport and what services are run through or to their Airport?
 
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David10

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Airport owners are entitled to have a say, but ultimately it is the responsibility of the DfT for making decisions that benefit the greater good. I think the GX is a good service but it does take up 4 paths an hour.

If these paths can be better used by services that extend beyond Gatwick don't see a problem in much the same way as peak GX services were extended to Brighton a few years ago.

And with most services only calling at Clapham Jct and East Croydon, Southern's services are only a couple of minutes slower.

I think it is agreed that the Heathrow Express is not the most efficient use of capacity on the line out of Paddington. If it wasn't for BAA's access rights would make more sense to integrate with Crossrail.
 

NSEFAN

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David10 said:
I think it is agreed that the Heathrow Express is not the most efficient use of capacity on the line out of Paddington. If it wasn't for BAA's access rights would make more sense to integrate with Crossrail.

These last until 2025, I believe. We'll be seeing the premium Heathrow services for some time yet!

As for the GatExs being replaced with Brighton services, I think that this is an excellent idea. The service right now is little more than a cashcow for Southern (and by extension the DfT). If the replacement service only calls at Clapham Junction/East Croydon, then there won't be much time penalty and passengers can enjoy improved connections.
 

SprinterMan

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In the Rail Magazine dated 8th August there is an article that the new owners of Gatwick Airport are loosing the GatEX service, to become semi fast Brighton services run by class 442's which are older than the fit for purpose class 460's.

Now, my question should owners of Airports have more say on what type of trains are run to their airport and what services are run through or to their Airport?

Excellent, when is this happening? :)
 

infobleep

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If the service is transformed into a semi-fast Brighton service then hopefully the new operator would be proud of the fact the services go beyond Gatwick.

Currently on the Gatwick Express Web Site and leaflets the route map doesn't even show the line to Brighton. Not even as a limited dotted line. It's as if they would rather not have to travel to Brighton, which given that Southern run the service, I doubt it actually the case.

Currently the Gatwick Express certainly isn't express like to Gatwick from Brighton. Not even from Haywards Heath. It takes 15 minutes to reach Gatwick on the 7.20am. During the day the fast trains take just 10 minutes. One might think what's 5 minutes? Well considering the government want to save just 21 minuts from London to Swansea, clearly a lot.

Yes I know it's due to paths that it runs slower and but they do bill it as the Gatwick Express.
 

ushawk

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Said an idea for the GatEx before. Merge the Brighton fasts into the GatEx (2 per hour), fast to Gatwick, then HHE and Brighton and have the other 2 GatEx services fast to either Littlehampton or Eastbourne.

Calling pattern for these could be Gatwick, Lewes, Polegate, Eastbourne and Gatwick, Hove, Worthing, Littlehampton - stock would be a problem though.
 

theblackwatch

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I travelled on a Gatwick Express from Victoria to Gatwick today, and I think there were 2 people in the coach I was in. It may as well be called the 'Fresh Air Express' as I saw one or two of the other services and they were pretty empty too. At the moment they aare wasting valuable paths/capacity.

An idea I had a year or two back was to operate Gatex as Victoria-Brighton formed of 10 cars (2x Class 442), with 5 being dropped off at Gatwick. On the return, these would be waiting in the platform (full of, or empty of, flight passengers), and the other 5 would arrive from Brighton, bolt on to the back and then away.
 
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Funnily enough, that is the idea they are considering implementing, to maximise the usage of paths and capacity, the bonus of the portion working is that it guarantees the valuable/impressionable airport passengers a seat, while also still providing a decent amount of seats on the BTN - GTW section, a 5-car 442 must be quite good on capacity with the 23m carriages!

Also will be very interesting to see whether the Thameslink/Southern merge will result in capacity changes on the BML, been hearing a few things about service patterns to do with the diversion away from London Bridge.
 

Skimble19

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Out of interest, why is it that Gatwick evidently assume nobody from Brighton would want to use the airport?
 

David10

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Out of interest, why is it that Gatwick evidently assume nobody from Brighton would want to use the airport?
Stand at Gatwick and see how many passengers head for the northbound platforms and how many head for the southbound, suggest 80% + are heading north. Gatwick does have good connections with the South Coast, its just that by being located to the south of London that most returning residents and tourists will be headed north.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
An idea I had a year or two back was to operate Gatex as Victoria-Brighton formed of 10 cars (2x Class 442), with 5 being dropped off at Gatwick. On the return, these would be waiting in the platform (full of, or empty of, flight passengers), and the other 5 would arrive from Brighton, bolt on to the back and then away.
Problem is that 442s don't have automatic couplers which would necessitate having shunters to connect the pipework which adds to the dwell time.
 

34D

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Problem is that 442s don't have automatic couplers which would necessitate having shunters to connect the pipework which adds to the dwell time.

Well come on. One jumper and two air pipes, all of which may be done from the platform, one minute max! And the actual coupling (buckeye) is quicker and simpler than the more modern electric couplers.
 

NSEFAN

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They did it at Bournemouth until 2007, so why is it a problem now? ;)

I suppose that from an operational perspective, you want to have as few people on the track at any one time. Automatic couplers remove the need to manually wire things up and have someone on the track.
 

Robbies

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I know when I have been at Gatwick more people have got on the FCC services as they want to head North from London or go through London without having to change at Victoria. However, I am the first to say that I think that you also as well as integrating Southern services into Thameslink, you need to have the service to Milton keynes start at Gatwick and extend it to Birmingham International rather than stopping the service at Milton Keynes. Also, you should have a Brighton to Stanstead service plus a train service that enables you to transfer to Heathrow from Gatwick. That way you will have airport to Airport services such that the hub of main airports would not just be the likes of Luton, Stanstead, Gatwick and Heathrow. This would also in my belief be such that you would not need any extra runways at Heathrow or Gatwick.

With regards to the Diversion away from London Bridge this probably being done pm the basis that some time in the future it needs to be rebuilt or should I say is going to be rebuilt.
 
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theblackwatch

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Funnily enough, that is the idea they are considering implementing, to maximise the usage of paths and capacity, the bonus of the portion working is that it guarantees the valuable/impressionable airport passengers a seat, while also still providing a decent amount of seats on the BTN - GTW section, a 5-car 442 must be quite good on capacity with the 23m carriages!

Also will be very interesting to see whether the Thameslink/Southern merge will result in capacity changes on the BML, been hearing a few things about service patterns to do with the diversion away from London Bridge.

I wonder why it's taken them so long to consider what I thought was a pretty obvious idea! Maybe I should become a railway industry consultant. ;)

From a revenue problem, one issue I can see for Southern, is that with all the trains running through to/from Brighton, it will be very difficult for them to implement the "not Gatwick Express" fares or refuse use of Southern Daysave tickets on these trains which seem to be intended to either (a) make people pay more to go on GE or (b) discourage them from travelling on it and make them use normal Southern services.
 

Robbies

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I wonder why it's taken them so long to consider what I thought was a pretty obvious idea! Maybe I should become a railway industry consultant. ;)

From a revenue problem, one issue I can see for Southern, is that with all the trains running through to/from Brighton, it will be very difficult for them to implement the "not Gatwick Express" fares or refuse use of Southern Daysave tickets on these trains which seem to be intended to either (a) make people pay more to go on GE or (b) discourage them from travelling on it and make them use normal Southern services.

I think that it is a case that some people in the Railway Industry need to listen to Rail Enthusiasts, who may work outside of the Rail industry but do quite often have so better ideas as to how the Rail system should be worked in this country, rather than working on the philosphy that this is always how it has been done. But this is just my point of view folks and it is not meant to upset anyone.......:|
 

tbtc

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There's a need for Heathrow and Stansted to have a dedicated service as the current track wouldn't allow any through services to link London with places beyond the airport. Same with Manchester Airport not being a through station (though it doesn't have any "dedicated" services, just extensions of some Manchester Piccadilly ones).

But Birmingham, Luton, Southampton etc all seem to manage pretty well without needing a dedicated train branded for the airport waiting for insecure passengers, so I'm not sure why Gatwick requires special provision, especially as its on one of the busiest lines in the country where paths are at a premium.

My idea would be to have a frequent service from Victoria to Gatwick Airport calling at Clapham Junction and East Croydon *only* (say eight trains an hour) but which continue to various southern termini (East Coastway, Brighton, West Coastway), so that the Victoria - Gatwick service could be branded as a frequent service for marketing purposes but without the requirement for dedicated stock/ dedicated paths.

Hopefully having one TOC running all services through Gatwick (apart from the FGW Reading service every hour) will simplify the confusion of "Southern"/ "Gatwick Express" and "Thameslink".
 

HexDriver

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From reading the same article it seems that Brighton passengers don't like the 442's either, surely it wouldn't be too difficult to design a train that meets both the needs of Brighton commuters and air passengers and then run them as a dedicated fleet on fast limited stop services

Also as a new train this would provide faster acceleration thereby providing capacity improvements. Having travelled on the current GEX service its clear the current stock are totally unsuitable for the role their being asked to perform
 

Surreytraveller

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Problem is that 442s don't have automatic couplers which would necessitate having shunters to connect the pipework which adds to the dwell time.

Tis the brake test that takes the time, rather than the jumpers. And you need another member of staff to do the brake test, unless the shunter runs down to do it.
 

scotsman

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Tis the brake test that takes the time, rather than the jumpers. And you need another member of staff to do the brake test, unless the shunter runs down to do it.

Also the shunter has to pop down on to the track to pin the buckeye
 

Prometheus

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Out of interest, why is it that Gatwick evidently assume nobody from Brighton would want to use the airport?


On the contrary, they get a lot of passengers to and from Haywards Heath and Brighton and these stations are well served by Thameslink and Southern services that also stop at Gatwick.
 

ushawk

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On the contrary, they get a lot of passengers to and from Haywards Heath and Brighton and these stations are well served by Thameslink and Southern services that also stop at Gatwick.

Very much this. There are 5 trains an hour from Brighton to Gatwick, although 2 of them each half hour leave within 3 minutes of each other and only 1 is a Southern service.
 

kieron

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There's a need for Heathrow and Stansted to have a dedicated service as the current track wouldn't allow any through services to link London with places beyond the airport. Same with Manchester Airport not being a through station
Manchester Airport is a through station. There's 1tph between Crewe and Manchester which runs via the airport. In fact, the only train which uses the Styal line without stopping at the airport is the 1940 from London to Manchester, which runs non-stop from Wilmslow.

There are also plenty of extra trains running north to cater for travellers who don't want to go via Crewe.

Stansted doesn't have any through trains, but I doubt the track is the main issue there.
 

jopsuk

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Surely, though this might go down poorly with enthusiats, an extra-extra order of 377s (5 car but in "express" seating layout?) to give a common fleet would be better from the operations side? Would require rather more investment, granted.
 

34D

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Tis the brake test that takes the time, rather than the jumpers. And you need another member of staff to do the brake test, unless the shunter runs down to do it.

Yes, but you're doing continuity rather than a test of the whole formation, so can easily do this on the two centre cabs.

Also the shunter has to pop down on to the track to pin the buckeye

Pin? Do you mean pull the chain on one of them to open it? Or do you mean to put the buckeye up (SR EMUs have historically gone about with their buckeyes up).

Or have I forgotten something? My hands-on experience with buckeyes was several years ago (and I can still remember the satisfaction at being able to lift one and slide the pin in all on my own - wonder whether I could do this nowadays?).
 

Skymonster

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Have you tried boarding a through train at Gatwick bound for London at around 07:00-07:30 in the morning? Piles of luggage everywhere, luggage blocking the aisles, lots of people standing when the train finally gets away, passengers finding it hard to get off at East Croyden because the aisles and vestibles are blocked with Gatwick passengers and luggage... Having all the Gatwick services running up to London from Brighton will be a disaster in the early morning rush - it'll be almost impossible for arriving passengers loaded down with luggage to get on a train when the train arrives at Gatwick already very well loaded with commuters. At busy times - busy for the railways and busy for Gatwick, which is essentially in the morning rush when a good number of long-haul flights arrive at Gatwick - I suggest it's rather essential that Gatwick has its own dedicated London services.

Andy
 

yorkie

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Skymonster - this already happens. The 0706, 0720, 0735, 0750, 0805 services from Gatwick to Victoria, operated by Southern with the brand name Gatwick Express, already originate at Brighton.

The opening post is perhaps a bit misleading as Gatwick Express was absorbed into the Southern TOC years ago, 460s were withdrawn years ago (the middle coaches are required to lengthen 458s as discussed in other threads) and through services from Brighton have been operating during the peak hours for about a couple of years now.

If you experienced overcrowding on a Gatwick Express that originated at Gatwick then I suggest you were not in the rear coaches - which are usually empty. In fact it's incredibly rare for even one person to be in the rear coach (unless it was a 5-car, or there was disruption/cancellations to other services).
 

swt_passenger

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The opening post is perhaps a bit misleading as Gatwick Express was absorbed into the Southern TOC years ago, 460s were withdrawn years ago (the middle coaches are required to lengthen 458s as discussed in other threads) and through services from Brighton have been operating during the peak hours for about a couple of years now.

Although I haven't seen the article it sounds very much like all Rail have done is written a piece based on the latest 'GatEx' proposals shown in the Thameslink/Southern franchise consultation.

That proposal is basically a repeat of what is already in the Sussex RUS anyway. Splitting and joining is an option allowed for by the new platform layout at Gatwick, as discussed previously here.

Whatever they've written in the mag seems to have convinced Robbies that it is a new idea though...
 

ushawk

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Have you tried boarding a through train at Gatwick bound for London at around 07:00-07:30 in the morning? Piles of luggage everywhere, luggage blocking the aisles, lots of people standing when the train finally gets away, passengers finding it hard to get off at East Croyden because the aisles and vestibles are blocked with Gatwick passengers and luggage... Having all the Gatwick services running up to London from Brighton will be a disaster in the early morning rush - it'll be almost impossible for arriving passengers loaded down with luggage to get on a train when the train arrives at Gatwick already very well loaded with commuters. At busy times - busy for the railways and busy for Gatwick, which is essentially in the morning rush when a good number of long-haul flights arrive at Gatwick - I suggest it's rather essential that Gatwick has its own dedicated London services.

Andy

Going to the front or the rear of the platform is easier, just that everyone congregates in the middle of the platform, so the middle of the train gets packed.

Rather have services coming into Gatwick slightly busy than having some units going around with barely anyone on them. Of course 1 reason for the Brighton "express" services in the mornings being busy is because of the commuters, shouldnt be as busy for the rest of the day.
 

tbtc

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Manchester Airport is a through station. There's 1tph between Crewe and Manchester which runs via the airport. In fact, the only train which uses the Styal line without stopping at the airport is the 1940 from London to Manchester, which runs non-stop from Wilmslow.

There are also plenty of extra trains running north to cater for travellers who don't want to go via Crewe.

Stansted doesn't have any through trains, but I doubt the track is the main issue there.

But (coming from Manchester) you need to run into Manchester Airport station and reverse to continue on to Crewe (or vice versa), it's not a through station.

I suggest it's rather essential that Gatwick has its own dedicated London services

Should Luton Airport have its own dedicated London services too?
 
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