London train travel to be disrupted during Christmas, Gatwick Express cuts services

Rail travel on mainline services in London will be disrupted this Christmas, as several lines will be closed for the execution of essential maintenance work, London 24 has reported.

While several trains will not run over the festive period, bus replacement services will operate on some routes. The interruption will include the axing of all Gatwick Express services between London Victoria and the West Sussex airport from December 25 to the end of New Year’s Day.

First Capital Connect (FCC) services between the airport and East Croydon will also not be running from December 27 to January 1. The maintenance work will also affect services operated by First Great Western (FGW), Southern train companies and other services run by FCC.

The repair work organised between Paddington station in London and Slough in Berkshire from December 27 to January 3, will disrupt some FGW services, while certain Heathrow Express services will be affected from December 30 to January 1.

Buses will replace trains on parts of London Overground between December 23 and 27, due to engineering work between Surrey Quays and New Cross Gate/New Cross. Also, from December 27 to 29, platforms 1 to 9 will be closed at Waterloo station in London, with disruptions to services by South West Trains.

On the Victoria, Gatwick and Surrey disruptions, Network Rail Sussex route managing director, Tim Robinson, said: ‘These are three significant infrastructure upgrades which have been carefully planned to take place at the same time to keep disruption to a minimum.’

All the same, passengers will be benefited as the Chiltern train company will be running some services on Boxing Day, a first ever. Its trains will operate for around 12 hours.

Over the year-end, track replacement work will also be carried out on the Tube at Earl’s Court in west London. This will lead to part closures on the District and Jubilee lines between December 27 and 30; while a section of the Northern line will be shut on December 28 and 29, the report said.

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.’

London Gatwick Airport responds to Consultation for New Rail Project

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.

Gatwick Express Offers New Music Collection for Passengers

Gatwick Express, a UK-based company that provides a rail-air service between Victoria station and Gatwick Airport in the UK, has launched its complimentary range of music, Express Tracks.

Express Tracks music is currently available to the company’s online customers, providing entertainment for the journey.

Chris Burchell, the managing director for Gatwick Express and Southern, said, ‘Gatwick Express has a global reputation for customer innovation and Express Tracks offers a free journey soundtrack for every customer who books online. We are committed to enhancing our 30-minute journey and creating the best experience for our customers.

Express Tracks is a unique collection of music created to accompany a train journey and thanks to these artist collaborations, Gatwick Express is the most exciting way to travel to the airport.’

The company has commissioned three artists, celebrated cellist and music composer, Philip Sheppard, producer and Radio1 DJ, Benga, and UK based band, The Milk, to record their soundtracks for the rail journey.

Philip Sheppard said, ‘To be able to use the uniquely visual story of a train journey as inspiration for a 30 minute track really appealed to me as an artist. I have appreciated the romance of rail ever since I first saw the famous Night Mail documentary. Creating the inaugural track for the Express Tracks project also allowed me to explore how changing scenery can alter travellers’ emotions and I used the departure, the cityscape, the suburbs and the anticipation of arrival as focal points in the music.’

Gatwick Express Launches New Barcode Ticket Scanners

Gatwick Express, a UK-based company that provides a rail to air service between Victoria station and Gatwick Airport in the UK, has launched new barcode ticket scanners for its passengers.

The new barcode ticket scanners will assist customers in avoiding long queues and enable them to have their prints of e-tickets or mobile tickets scanned at the gates. The scanners are installed at the gates of London Victoria and Gatwick Airport stations, and the service is available to people that buy their tickets at the company website, www.gatwickexpress.com.

David Metherell, the company marketing manager, said, ‘The new barcode scanners ensure that customers, who book in advance and select the ‘print at home’ option or send their tickets to their UK mobile, can move more easily from their start point to their final destination. With our excellent online discounts, this means that web booking is both cheaper and more convenient.’

The company, which recently launched its mobile website, allowing passengers to buy a ticket from their smart phones, is also offering savings for travelling passengers. Customers purchasing a minimum of two return tickets from the website will pay a discounted rate of £43.10, providing a saving of 35 percent on full fare tickets. The train travel is in air-conditioned coaches, and drinks and light refreshments are served to passengers in their seats.

Trains travelling between Victoria station and Gatwick Airport depart every 15 minutes, and offer a journey time of 30 minutes. For more information, please visit www.gatwickexpress.com.