It was recently predicted that the Gatwick Express train service would be scrapped to make better use of track capacity on the Brighton main line. Instead, this vital rail link to London's second airport has been reprieved by the Department for Transport following objections from the aviation industry and various consumer bodies.
Gatwick Express trains will run at their existing 15 minute frequency until December 2008. But from then, the plan is to better meet demand by extending six trains at peak times between Gatwick airport, Brighton and vice versa. These services will also call at Haywards Heath. The six trains will depart Brighton between 0735 and 0850 and will leave Victoria between 1730 and 1845.
National Express, the current operator of Gatwick Express, will relinquish the franchise to Southern in May 2008. To allay fears that service standards might slip in the run up to the handover, Richard Bowker, group chief executive for National Express says "We will always stand by our commitments even when the immediate commercial advantage is not obvious. We will continue to maintain this level of professionalism for our customers on the Gatwick Express until our obligations expire in May 2008. We will work with the DfT [Department for Transport] to ensure a smooth transition of the franchise over the coming months."
Report by Alex McWhirter