New airport chairman critical of Gatwick Express

Sir Roy McNulty, the new chairman of Gatwick Airport, has criticised the Gatwick Express train service.

In an interview with the London Evening Standard, the new chairman stated his concern that Gatwick Express, the high-frequency passenger rail service that operates between London Victoria station and Gatwick Airport, gives incoming passengers a bad first impression because of problems with overcrowding and old rolling stock. He even claimed that the service ‘at times veers towards Third World conditions.’

He was quoted in the newspaper, saying, ‘In the short to medium term, our main priority is improvement in the road and rail infrastructure that serves the airport – and above all improvement in the Gatwick Express.’

The rail route, which also has a number trains that continue on to Brighton from Gatwick, is operated by Southern, and a spokesperson for the company responded, ‘In addition to providing a direct airport link Gatwick Express services now provide around 20,000 extra peak seats between Brighton and London every week to help meet the capacity challenge on that route. Balancing the needs of the airport and the needs of Brighton line commuters is always going to be challenging, particularly when operating over some of the most congested tracks in the country.’

The comments by Gatwick’s new chairman echoed the airports official response last week to the Davis Commission on the expansion of airport capacity in the southeast. Its statement then read, ‘Although it already has excellent rail links, the airport – as well as some of its airlines – believe more dedicated, high quality and value for money services into London are fundamental to encouraging greater use of its capacity’ It added, ‘Key to this is for better, fit-for-purpose rolling stock to be introduced for the Gatwick Express.’