Gatwick airport: your guide to the new £250m railway station

In the Nineteen Thirties, the UK led the world in related transport: Gatwick was the first airport anyplace on the planet with a direct connection between trains and planes. Built-in transport has been at the coronary heart of the hub’s id ever since, however the Nineteen Sixties railway station has been bursting at the seams and a ache to use for a few years.

Since 5.46am on Tuesday 21 November 2023, passengers all of the sudden have extra room to breathe. A rejuvenated £250m rail station, doubled in dimension, is now open as a part of the airport’s South Terminal. Right here’s what it means for passengers.

What was the downside that wanted fixing?

Gatwick was constructed at its present location due to quick access to the fundamental London to Brighton rail line. When the Gatwick Racecourse was repurposed as an airport in the Nineteen Thirties, a tunnel was constructed to the terminal. It proved revolutionary: passengers might journey from central London to central Paris in underneath three hours.

At present London Gatwick is the second-busiest airport in Britain. It has 15 trains an hour to London with some companies persevering with to Cambridge, Peterborough and Bedford, plus hyperlinks to Brighton, the remainder of the South Coast and Southampton – in addition to trains to Studying for connections to the West of England.

However Britain’s airports are booming once more. Arriving and departing airline passengers are quickly approaching – and in lots of instances exceeding – pre-pandemic numbers. As anybody who has been to a British airport in the previous six months or so will testify, congestion is rising.

With Gatwick returning to the virtually 60,000 passengers per day who have been utilizing the airport rail station earlier than Covid, the extremely constrained house wanted a radical resolution. Congestion and ensuing sluggish boarding delayed trains and precipitated disruption to ripple extensively throughout the Southern and Thameslink networks.

In accordance to the principal architect, Jordan Gill: “We had points with security, congestion and the passenger expertise at Gatwick.”

What’s the resolution?

Doubling the accessible ground house – and separating arriving and departing travellers slightly than having everybody milling about collectively. There are eight new escalators and 5 jumbo-sized lifts constructed for passengers with restricted mobility or with giant quantities of bags and households with younger youngsters.

A pair of platforms are wider. The hope is that passengers shall be in a position to get on and off trains far more shortly, which may even enhance punctuality for passengers ready up and down the line.

The new arrivals house is designed to work intuitively, utilizing the airport’s fashion for signage slightly than the conventional rail strategy.

Who paid for the £250m improve?

The taxpayer lined most of the price (£200m). London Gatwick Airport chipped in with £42m, with the relaxation made up by an enterprise known as Coast to Capital.

Compared, Inverness airport station, which was constructed from scratch and opened earlier this 12 months, price simply £15m – although wider rail works together with a passing loop and extra monitor added an additional £27m. It was, although, a a lot smaller venture.

The Gatwick transformation had to happen above a reside railway and inside an airport that runs 24 hours a day, with many different constraints – together with the top of cranes that might be used, due to airspace restrictions.

What’s the aspiration?

The new station kinds a part of Gatwick’s ambition to get three out of 5 passengers to the airport by public or ultra-low emission transport by 2030. At the moment, the determine arriving by rail is 40 per cent, which has practically doubled in the previous 20 years.

Simpler rail entry is a part of the carrot; the not too long ago launched £5 drop-off cost for individuals who need to be dropped at the terminal is a stick.

However aren’t passenger numbers down, put up Covid?

Sure. Throughout the community, there are round 20 per cent fewer rail travellers. However Gatwick’s decline might be much less, as a result of aviation has rebounded so strongly.

Stewart Wingate, the airport’s chief government, says: “This 12 months, we’ll see about 41 million passengers journey by the airport So we’re about 90 per cent recovered throughout the full 12 months versus 2019. And we’re very assured about the future prospects for the progress of the airport.

“What we would like to do in the future is carry into routine use our northern runway. We’re presently going by a planning course of to make that occur and we ought to be examined in 2024, with a call from the authorities about this time subsequent 12 months.

“We might develop to as many as 78 million passengers in the late 2030s.”

Do I nonetheless want to take the Shuttle from the rail station to North Terminal?

Sure, though it’s also a fairly nice 15-minute stroll.

What about the coming rail strikes?

Passengers utilizing Gatwick shall be impacted twice: as soon as on Sunday 3 December, when Thameslink practice drivers will stroll out, and Wednesday 6 December when it’s the flip of Aslef members working for Gatwick Categorical and Southern.

However for fundamental line passengers between London, Gatwick and Brighton, there ought to nonetheless be a good variety of trains operating. They might be very crowded, particularly in the mornings. And in the event you’re attempting to join from different elements of England, it might be messy all the approach by from 1 to 9 December.

5 belongings you’ll discover at Gatwick’s new station

  1. Wider platforms (for five, 6 and seven, no less than).
  2. New lifts and escalators.
  3. Seamless signposting that means you might be already inside the airport whenever you attain the arrival degree.
  4. Extra dependable trains.
  5. A “Gatwick Museum” above platforms 5 and 6, which charts the improvement of Gatwick since the identify was coined in the thirteenth century.

Two belongings you gained’t discover

  1. Shops, together with WH Smith, West Cornwall Pasty Co and a bureau de change.
  2. A conventional ticket workplace; as an alternative, workers are readily available to assist passengers use the 20 or so ticket machines or, if obligatory, dispense extra complicated tickets straight. In fact, many passengers organise their tickets on-line.

Listen to Simon Calder’s podcast report from the new Gatwick station

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