What is the point of Gatwick Express anymore?

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nuneatonmark

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Used the Gatwick Express for the first time to Gatwick a couple of weeks ago. Outward was fine around 0800, plenty of space, 10 coach train. On the way back today, had to fight my way on a FIVE coach train at peak time which had clearly come from somewhere else first. It's sold as a specific airport service for which you pay a small premium, but if anyone can use it why bother with the Gatwick Express brand, just roll the services into Southern's normal brand. It feels like a con.
 
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bengley

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It's busy today because of industrial action by Southern guards - they are running a skeleton service
 

bb21

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To answer your question, probably none.

Just a gimmick to try and get unknowing suspects to part with more money than necessary.
 

Deepgreen

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Agreed - it leads to passenger confusion, yet another brand on the route, apparent industrial relations complexities and serves no purpose as a separate operation. GTR also have the cheek to say that the new trains (i.e. the 387/2s) will provide improved accommodation - aside from the wider doors, the accommodation is drastically worse than the 442s provide. Get rid of it and reduce the needless complexity of operations on the BML.
 

Phil.

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The original poster is quite correct. When launched it was a premier service. With wide entrance doors, extra luggage space, air-conditioning and - in those pre-poserphone days - an on-board telephone it was something special. Now, truth is, there is no Gatwick Express. It's just a bog standard train.
 

GatwickDepress

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I get the feeling the Gatwick Express partially exists because Gatwick Airport's management would throw a hissy fit if they lost their "special train". TSGN seems to treat it like a sacred cow, ever have since it was absorbed into the Southern franchise.

It carts fresh air in the off-peak and is packed with commuters during the peak. It really does hold no use whatsoever - a Brighton - Gatwick Airport - East Croydon - Clapham Junction - London Victoria TSGN service would be a lot more useful.
 

Agent_c

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It allows the TOC to try and scam people out of extra cash through their NotATOCJustABrand-limited tickets?
 
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talldave

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It's not even "Express" as some Southern services are quicker between Gatwick and Victoria.

It's a national embarrassment.
 

NSEFAN

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nuneatonmark said:
What is the point of Gatwick Express anymore?
££££££££££££££££££££££££££££

And making Gatwick feel special by having a "dedicated" train service just like it's big brother Heathrow. ;)
 

CalaisFret

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When (American Airlines I think it was) were moved out to Gatwick from Heathrow, part of the deal was that there would be a dedicated "express" service from Gatwick to central London. Otherwise, BA etc. would have lost some of their prime slots at US airports - or so I've heard. This means that the GatEx is enshrined in all franchise agreements on the BML route by DfT.
 

HowardGWR

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On an inward flight, I tell everyone I catch potentially falling for this con, not to buy a GE ticket but just get an ordinary one at the station.
 

IKB

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Used the Gatwick Express for the first time to Gatwick a couple of weeks ago. Outward was fine around 0800, plenty of space, 10 coach train. On the way back today, had to fight my way on a FIVE coach train at peak time which had clearly come from somewhere else first. It's sold as a specific airport service for which you pay a small premium, but if anyone can use it why bother with the Gatwick Express brand, just roll the services into Southern's normal brand. It feels like a con.

You picked a bad day due to the industrial action.

It used to be a premium service under BR with lengthy rakes of air-con Mk 2 coaches and onboard staff, catering etc.

Essentially the only selling point now is the "non-stop" aspect of the journey (hence you pay more). From a passenger point of view, the new GatEx 387s are internally virtually identical to 377s running around on the Southern network. Just different coloured seats and exterior branding. The 442s that are being replaced are far superior inside - and thats a discussion that's been had endlessly on here!
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
When (American Airlines I think it was) were moved out to Gatwick from Heathrow, part of the deal was that there would be a dedicated "express" service from Gatwick to central London. Otherwise, BA etc. would have lost some of their prime slots at US airports - or so I've heard. This means that the GatEx is enshrined in all franchise agreements on the BML route by DfT.

How long ago was that, as Gat Ex has been branded as a dedicated service since the late 60s/early 70s ?
 

Domh245

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How long ago was that, as Gat Ex has been branded as a dedicated service since the late 60s/early 70s ?

It only started properly in 1984. Before that it was a service ran with 4VEGs shuttling with Bognor Regis services (if wikipedia is to be believed)
 

edwin_m

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It only started properly in 1984. Before that it was a service ran with 4VEGs shuttling with Bognor Regis services (if wikipedia is to be believed)

That sounds about right - I have vague memories (about 1973, aged about 7) of going down from an elevated terminal at Victoria and being warned to get into the right portion. And from pictures I've seen the trains were identical to the rest of the fleet except for some extra luggage racks and a bit of branding.

So it looks like it's come full circle...
 

hwl

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When (American Airlines I think it was) were moved out to Gatwick from Heathrow, part of the deal was that there would be a dedicated "express" service from Gatwick to central London. Otherwise, BA etc. would have lost some of their prime slots at US airports - or so I've heard. This means that the GatEx is enshrined in all franchise agreements on the BML route by DfT.

Indeed under the Bermuda II agreements 1981 revision which limited Heathrow - US flights to BA, PanAm & TWA (later amended to BA Virgin American and United in 1991) which designated Gatwick as the alternative London Airport. It eventually died in 2007.

The Wikipedia article is pretty good:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bermuda_II_Agreement
 

chubs

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Sadly a vast number of tourists have no idea Southern or Thameslink services even exist, and just buy the rip off tickets.

OK maybe they should be doing their research before travelling but still....
 

LeeLivery

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It is a total waste of track space. I could understand if they removed Gatwick Airport off the departure boards for Southern services at Ldn Victoria (SN still calling there of course) to get people to use the Express. Charge at normal fares and you'd get a lot of extra space on the packed Southern services. Of course common sense isn't that common at the DfT or GTR :roll:
 
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Philip C

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££££££££££££££££££££££££££££

And making Gatwick feel special by having a "dedicated" train service just like it's big brother Heathrow. ;)

Or given its relative age is the opposite the truth?

One of the virtues of being "Express" or rather non-stop between Victoria and Gatwick is that the unholy scrum of passengers from East Croydon to/from Victoria is avoided. I've been known to leave an up Hastings/Eastbourne train at Gatwick and travel on the "Express" purely to avoid the downsides of the Croydon and Clapham stops! Once the stock has been changed, and assuming no change in stock on the Hastings/Eastbourne to Victoria service, I'm much more likely to grin and bear the exigencies of the London area stops.
 

JamesRowden

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I get the feeling the Gatwick Express partially exists because Gatwick Airport's management would throw a hissy fit if they lost their "special train". TSGN seems to treat it like a sacred cow, ever have since it was absorbed into the Southern franchise.

It carts fresh air in the off-peak and is packed with commuters during the peak. It really does hold no use whatsoever - a Brighton - Gatwick Airport - East Croydon - Clapham Junction - London Victoria TSGN service would be a lot more useful.

There isn't presently the capacity south of Gatwick for all Gatwick Express services to run through to the coast. The Sussex Route Study shows a possible future off-peak south Brighton mainline service pattern which I remember differs from the present one by having:
  • All 4tph Gatwick Express services running through to Brighton rather than the present 2tph (so it's actually a Brighton Express service)
  • The 2tph Victoria-Littlehampton and 2tph Victoria-Eastbourne/Ore services not joining/splitting at Haywards Heath and having their own paths to/from London.
  • A new 1tph off-peak service between London Bridge and Hove
  • A new 1tph off-peak service between London Bridge and Eastbourne
 

zoneking

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In an ideal world the GEX would take ALL of the airport passengers who want to travel between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria. This would free up space in the overcrowded commuter trains for us ordinary passengers.

Many times I have been on a crowded Redhill stopper service to see a half empty GEX speed by, and I know that not all of the airport passengers are changing at East Croydon or Clapham Junction because I listen to them.
 

IKB

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It only started properly in 1984. Before that it was a service ran with 4VEGs shuttling with Bognor Regis services (if wikipedia is to be believed)

I've attached a BR leaflet from 1969.

It's advertised as a "Rail-Air Link" with 24 hr services.

But, as you say, the map suggests the train formed part of longer distance services.
 

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Bletchleyite

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In an ideal world the GEX would take ALL of the airport passengers who want to travel between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria. This would free up space in the overcrowded commuter trains for us ordinary passengers.

I agree. It should be at the same fare as the regular service and heavily promoted. If that were the case, I can't imagine anyone would choose to clog up the commuter services (other than Thameslink which some may choose if the service is more useful to them, which is fine).
 

yorksrob

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I had a very pleasant journey on GX between London and Brighton the other day. We were able to use a Network card. The 442's provided a good travelling environment as well, so as an express to the coast l found it very handy.
 

hwl

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I agree. It should be at the same fare as the regular service and heavily promoted. If that were the case, I can't imagine anyone would choose to clog up the commuter services (other than Thameslink which some may choose if the service is more useful to them, which is fine).

The East Croydon and Clapham stops are very useful for a large number of South Londoners so we'll continue to clog up the SN services;)
(And more Thameslink services post 2018)
 

tbtc

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Something I've wondered for a while - do Gatwick Airport pay the railway for the "premium" service that their Airport gets (compared to, say, Birmingham/ Luton etc which seem to survive without a special "shuttle")?

I'm of the opinion that Gatwick Express is a waste of paths (in its current guise), when compared against the crowded services through East Croydon, and that it'd be better integrated into the network by inserting a couple more stops, but if the Airport pay for their "premium" route to continue then that affects things.
 

coppercapped

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It only started properly in 1984. Before that it was a service ran with 4VEGs shuttling with Bognor Regis services (if wikipedia is to be believed)

Wiki hasn't got a very long memory! There was a half-hourly service for Gatwick certainly from the mid-sixties (and possibly earlier) which consisted of a 2 coach unit (2-BIL?) being detached at Gatwick from, if my memory serves me well, a Victoria - Horsham - Bognor service. The emu stayed in the platform at Gatwick so airline passengers and their luggage could disembark and board at leisure and the unit was coupled onto the front of the next Victoria bound service.

So it was a dedicated service for airline passengers, but not explicitly labelled as 'Gatwick Express' or Rail Air Link'.
 
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GatwickDepress

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Wiki hasn't got a very long memory! There was a half-hourly service for Gatwick certainly from the mid-sixties (and possibly earlier) which consisted of a 2 coach unit (2-BIL?) being detached at Gatwick from, if my memory serves me well, a Victoria - Horsham - Bognor service. The emu stayed in the platform at Gatwick so airline passengers and their luggage could disembark and board at leisure and the unit was coupled onto the front of the next Victoria bound service.

So it was a dedicated service for airline passengers, but not explicitly labelled as 'Gatwick Express'.
It's mentioned in the first paragraph of the History heading!

Wikipedia said:
Gatwick Airport railway station opened in June 1958. Initially the rail service was provided entirely by London to Brighton stopping services, but more trains began to call with the introduction of the summer timetable in June 1958. One of the key elements of this was the extension of Three Bridges to Bognor Regis stopping services to start and terminate at London Victoria. These trains would run through a reversible platform at Gatwick where a portion would detach and wait in the platform for passengers until the next up train from Bognor Regis was attached and the train would depart for Victoria. For this service British Rail used a small batch of seven Class 402 2HALs in order to work with the trains used on the Bognor Regis services, suitable for airport link use because of their larger luggage space.
 
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