London Gatwick Airport has responded to a consultation held by the Department for Transport with regards to the combination of the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern rail franchise.
The combined franchise will be expected to operate from September 2013.
The head of surface access for Gatwick Airport, Julia Gregory, said, ‘High quality rail links are key to attracting airlines and passengers to an airport. Research shows that passengers consider the cost and convenience of rail before deciding which airport to fly from.1 Research also shows that airlines look for high quality rail links and services when deciding which airport to operate out of.
Gatwick is without doubt the best connected London airport by rail but if we are to remain competitive and continue to attract major airlines serving the UK’s key trading routes and encourage more people to travel by train then the quality and extent of those services has to improve.
We have called on Government to specify in the tender document what kind of service a successful bidder would be expected to provide. That must include an obligation for any new operator to return the Gatwick Express to a dedicated, non-stop premium service with new fit-for-purpose carriages and the re-introduction of an on-board ticketing service.’
Currently around 12 million passengers travel to and from Gatwick Airport every year by train, with the majority of them accessing the Gatwick Express, a rail-air service between Victoria station and Gatwick Airport.
The airport has reported that the number of people travelling between Gatwick and London by rail services is expected to increase by 30 percent in the next eight years, and hence there exists a demand for improved rail services connecting the airport.