Simon Calder takes a first look inside Gatwick’s new £250m rail station

Gatwick airport station’s new arrivals space has opened – with a promise to remodel journeys.

The £250m undertaking welcomed its first practice at 5.46am. Passengers on the Thameslink service from Bedford by way of central London have been in a position to make use of new high-capacity lifts and escalators to succeed in a newly created arrivals house – which has been constructed above seven platforms on one of many busiest railways within the nation.

The expertise could be very completely different from the earlier crush as passengers have been funnelled into services constructed within the Nineteen Sixties, when Gatwick dealt with round 4 million passengers a 12 months. The Sussex airport now has greater than 10 instances as many, however rail station services have lengthy been insufficient for the quantity of travellers.

With no congestion from different passengers, the platform-to-terminal journey for many took lower than a minute.

In the meantime individuals arriving on the first wave of inbound flights from Addis Ababa, Doha and New York loved sole use of the rail departure concourse, which beforehand was shared with incoming practice travellers.

Talking completely to The Impartial, Gatwick’s chief government, Stewart Wingate, mentioned: “It’s been a very long time coming. We’ve been engaged on it with Community Rail from 2015 and it’s improbable to see the new station open for passengers to make use of.

“Passengers will see an infinite distinction. About 40 per cent of our passengers and employees get to and from the airport by practice.

“Sooner or later, we’d wish to see as many as 60 per cent of our passengers and employees get to and from the airport by sustainable journey choices.”

Earlier than the Covid disaster, Gatwick’s station was one of many 20 busiest within the UK, with many extra passengers than key hubs resembling Liverpool Lime Avenue and Cardiff Central.

Passenger numbers lowered drastically in the course of the pandemic, however are actually returning in droves – with some European hyperlinks above 100 per cent of pre-Covid ranges.

Jordan Gill, principal architect at Systra, who designed the new station, mentioned: “We have been set the temporary by Community Rail to actually remedy three issues. We had points with security, congestion and the passenger expertise at Gatwick.

“The important thing factor we’ve achieved right here is to create this new concourse house as a welcome to Gatwick Airport.

“Beforehand all visitors – each arriving and departing passengers – would depart by means of the previous concourse constructed within the Nineteen Sixties, that hadn’t obtained any improve work for not less than the final 40 years.

“If individuals simply stroll by means of right here and get that good feeling in regards to the airport, then I believe we’ve been profitable as a result of the purpose is to maneuver individuals safely and and effectively into the airport house.”

The house constraints concerned within the Nineteen Sixties station haven’t been utterly overcome, with giant numbers of passengers persevering with to construct up on platform 4, the principle departure location for central London. However new monitor work implies that extra platforms can be utilized for each north- and southbound trains, permitting crowds to be considerably dispersed.

At the moment 11 trains run to London each hour: to each Victoria (terminus for Southern and Gatwick Categorical) and the Thameslink line by way of Blackfriars to St Pancras.

Gatwick additionally has direct trains to the capital and onwards to Cambridge, Peterborough and Bedford, in addition to to Brighton and the remainder of the South Coast – and a hyperlink to Studying for connections to the West of England.

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

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