Transforming your journey at Gatwick Airport
Architect’s impression of the new passenger concourse
Network Rail is delivering a vital £150m upgrade to Gatwick Airport Railway Station to relieve crowding, improve accessibility and reduce delays for commuters and leisure travellers across the South East.
With the number of customers visiting the station set to grow, this important investment will upgrade the railway station and help the airport to play an even bigger role in the local economy’s growth as a hub for international visitors.
It will be delivered between May 2020 and 2023, with two years of intensive platform works between May 2020 and May 2022. While these platform works are underway, we’ll be introducing a dedicated timetable to keep you on the move.
Upgrade plans and benefits
The upgrade will:
- Double the size of the station concourse through the construction of a new concourse above platforms 5, 6 and 7, the refit of the existing station concourse and the construction of a new separate staff building to create more space for customers
- Improve customer access, especially for wheelchair users and those with luggage by building five new lifts, eight new escalators, new staircases and improved wayfinding throughout the station buildings
- Reduce platform overcrowding and reduce train delays across the network by widening platforms 5 and 6, through adding a new lift and set of stairs on platforms 3 & 4 and new lifts, escalators and stairs on platforms 5, 6 and 7. This will make it much faster for passengers to board and alight trains and clear platforms, helping our team to dispatch trains quickly and keep services running on time
To enable the work, the station will need to be managed differently. We will need to change walking routes at the station, so we’re planning extensively to ensure that every customer is supported during this exciting time at the airport. This includes ensuring that step-free access to and from the platforms is available at all times.
You can find out more about the Gatwick Railway Station upgrade project at: https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/our-routes/sussex/upgrading-the-brighton-main-line/gatwick-airport-station-upgrade/
Train services during the upgrade
We are working closely with Network Rail, Gatwick Airport, transport and rail groups and other stakeholders across the South East to develop a dedicated timetable that will remain consistent for the two years of platform works.
We are introducing a dedicated timetable because the platform works between May 2020 and May 2022 will prevent trains from stopping at some platforms and a 30mph speed restriction will be in place when trains pass through the worksite.
While this important work is underway, there will be sixteen trains per hour in each direction through the station for the majority of the day, compared to eighteen today. This will mean changes to Gatwick Express, Southern and Thameslink services as we make the most of the available capacity on the railway and run longer trains wherever possible.
Customers will continue to have access to as many services as possible, at a time when fewer trains can operate per hour, and the timetable has been designed to deliver a punctual service so that passengers can rely on connections. We are working to deliver this important upgrade with as little disruption as possible.
The full timetable is available in journey planners such as www.nationalrail.co.uk.
As a summary of our plans for services from 17 May 2020 operating on the Brighton Main Line:
- Thameslink services will stay broadly the same as today, however some services between Three Bridges and Brighton will change with some new stops
- Gatwick Express services will change. Today, the service provides up to a four trains per hour service between London Victoria and Gatwick Airport.
In the dedicated timetable from 17 May 2020, there is no change to the number of trains operating during the busiest hour in both the morning and evening peak (0712-0812 – departing Brighton to London Victoria and 1729-1829 departing London Victoria to Brighton), however some services will make additional stops at intermediary stations such as Preston Park.
Outside this busiest hour of the morning and evening peak, Gatwick Express will operate as a regular half-hourly service, instead of every quarter hour, and all services will operate to and from Brighton, with almost all trains running with twelve carriages instead of eight.
As a result of these changes, Gatwick Airport will retain two Gatwick Express, eight Thameslink and six Southern services in both directions from London per hour.
From the perspective of a passenger using Gatwick Express services originating or terminating in Brighton, it will mean:
- The Gatwick Express service in the two busiest hours of the morning and evening peak will stay the same, but almost all trains will have the maximum 12 carriages
- The Gatwick Express service in the morning and evening peak outside of the two busiest hours will reduce, but trains will be longer. This means that a customer travelling in these periods may need to travel slightly earlier or later than today, but there will be more space on board.
- The service off-peak to and from Brighton will stay the same as today but with longer 12 carriage trains
- Southern services from the West Coastway (Littlehampton via Hove) and East Coastway (Hastings / Eastbourne via Lewes) to London Victoria will operate with longer eight carriage trains throughout most of the day, instead of four carriage trains, providing twice as much space on-board and much more passenger space on the busiest sections of the network.
West Coastway services will make new station stops at Preston Park (increasing services to half hourly), Hassocks and Burgess Hill, and East Coastway services will make extra station stops at Wivelsfield, introducing a new half-hourly service in both directions at Wivelsfield.
To achieve this, Southern off-peak services from London Victoria will no longer run direct to or from Brighton. Passengers to/from Brighton to London will need to either use direct Gatwick Express or Thameslink services or change at stations such as East Croydon, Haywards Heath or Preston Park. The Gatwick Express trains are being lengthened and, off-peak, when the Southern services would have otherwise operated, it will cost no more to travel direct from Brighton to Victoria with Gatwick Express than it currently does with Southern on a Super Off-Peak ticket. (You can read more about this below).
Other services which operate via Gatwick Airport such as Southern services via Horsham towards Portsmouth Harbour or Great Western Railway services will not be significantly impacted by the works, but timings may change.
Other services which operate via Gatwick Airport such as Southern services via Horsham towards Portsmouth Harbour will not be significantly impacted by the works, but timings may change slightly
- Thameslink services will be increased with the addition of a second train each hour between Brighton and Cambridge on Saturday and the extension of an existing Sunday Cambridge to Gatwick Airport service through to Brighton. This will mean additional services at Brighton, Burgess Hill, Haywards Heath, Three Bridges, Gatwick Airport, East Croydon, London Bridge and through to Cambridge and new journey opportunities through connections with other services.
The new Thameslink services will also help to create more room on board existing Thameslink services such as Brighton to Bedford services by providing more Thameslink services between London and Brighton.
On Sundays, there will be some changes to calling patterns for stations north of Gatwick to minimise disruption and to ensure as much consistency as possible during weekend engineering work.
Notably, this will reduce the planned service at Earlswood and Salfords stations from two to one train per hour on Sundays. This is planned to create a much more predictable service for customers at these stations. More often than not engineering work significantly disrupts all train services on Sundays; this change will help keep trains running.
Gatwick Express services will operate as a regular half-hourly service through to Brighton on Saturday as they do today, however services will operate as twelve carriage trains instead of eight. This is because, like on weekdays, the additional two trains per hour service between London Victoria and Gatwick Airport will not operate, and these carriages will be added to the two trains per hour service in each direction between London Victoria, Gatwick Airport and Brighton.
On Sundays, a half-hourly Gatwick Express service will operate between London Victoria and Gatwick Airport only.
Southern services from the West Coastway (Littlehampton via Hove) and East Coastway (Hastings / Eastbourne via Lewes) to London Victoria will now operate as dedicated services with extra carriages as they will on weekdays. This also means, like on weekdays, that Southern services from London Victoria will no longer run direct to or from Brighton on Saturdays. Passengers to/from Brighton to London on Saturdays will need to either use direct Gatwick Express or Thameslink services or change at stations such as East Croydon, Haywards Heath or Preston Park.
On Sundays, Southern services will operate as today, albeit with the addition of additional stops at Cooksbridge on the East Coastway service, creating a Sunday service at this station for the first time. This means that direct Southern services between London Victoria and Brighton will continue to operate on Sundays and because of the additional Thameslink service, the number of trains at Brighton per hour on Sundays increases from four to five trains per hour.
Gatwick Express service changes from Sunday 26th April 2020
To support the upgrade at Gatwick Airport, as a change to the current timetable, the Gatwick Express service between London Victoria and Gatwick Airport will operate as a half-hourly service in the off-peak from Sunday 26th April 2020, compared to every 15 minutes today. This is achieved by removing the Gatwick Express services that normally terminate or start their journeys at Gatwick Airport on platform 6 and operate as a shuttle service.
This will have no impact on Gatwick Express services that operate between London Victoria and Brighton calling at Gatwick Airport.
We are making this change so that platform 6 can be closed. This is to enable an additional staircase to be built ahead of the main upgrade.
Q. Why have you stopped joining or splitting trains at Haywards Heath?
Southern services from the East Coastway (Eastbourne via Lewes) and the West Coastway (Littlehampton via Lewes) will now predominantly operate with longer eight carriage trains throughout most of the day as dedicated services, instead of four carriage trains, providing twice as much space on-board and much more passenger space on the busiest sections of the network.
This replaces the practice of joining trains from both Coastway routes at Haywards Heath to form a single train towards London and splitting the train in the opposite direction. It has been achieved by diverting what was the off-peak Brighton Southern service group to Eastbourne to enable the Littlehampton service to operate as a dedicated service. We need to make this change to deliver the upgrade.
This is because splitting and joining trains at Haywards Heath adds too much risk of disruption because of the need to maintain consistent arrival and dwell times when fewer platforms are available at Gatwick.
Q. What does this mean for services between Gatwick Airport and London?
While there is some variation during the day as an example of the standard repeating pattern (12:00-13:00):
- Weekdays – Sixteen trains per hour in each direction between Gatwick Airport and London, two fewer than today. This is formed of eight Thameslink services, six Southern services and two Gatwick Express services
- Saturdays – Sixteen trains per hour in each direction between Gatwick Airport and London, one fewer than today. This is formed of eight Thameslink services, six Southern services and two Gatwick Express services
- Sundays - Thirteen trains per hour in each direction between Gatwick Airport and London, two fewer than today. This is formed of six Thameslink services, five Southern services and two Gatwick Express services
Q. What does this mean for services between Brighton and London?
During the busiest hour of the morning and evening peak, the number of services stays exactly the same but with longer Gatwick Express services. While there is some variation during the day, as an example of the standard repeating pattern (12:00-13:00):
- Weekdays – Six trains per hour in each direction between Brighton and London, two fewer than today. This is formed of four Thameslink services and two Gatwick Express services with the latter operating as twelve carriage instead of eight carriage trains
- Saturdays – Six trains per hour in each direction between Brighton and London, one fewer than today. This is formed of four Thameslink services and two Gatwick Express services with the latter operating as twelve carriage instead of eight carriage trains
- Sundays – Five trains per hour in each direction between Brighton and London, one more than today. This is formed of three Thameslink services and two Southern services.
Q. What fare changes are being introduced?
In recognition of the temporary change this timetable will introduce, particularly for customers in Brighton and at Gatwick Airport, the following changes are being introduced to fares from 17 May 2020:
- The extension of the accompanied “Kids for £2” special offer onto Gatwick Express fares
- The extension of validity of the London Freedom Pass, 60+ Oyster photocard or the Veterans Oyster photocard onto Gatwick Express services. This means that holders of these passes will be able to use these passes in combination with a boundary zone 6 ticket to/from Gatwick Airport or to stations further south on Gatwick Express services
- The removal of the “not Gatwick Express” restriction on the Super Off-Peak Day Single and Day Return ticket (currently valid on Southern or Thameslink services) between Brighton and London Victoria. This means that customers currently purchasing this ticket to travel on Southern services from Brighton can continue to travel to London Victoria at no extra cost
The lowest walk-up fare between Brighton and London remains on Thameslink services.
Q. What service currently operates on the Gatwick Express?
On weekdays, during the morning peak, all Gatwick Express services start in Brighton and during the evening peak, all Gatwick Express services travel through to Brighton. This reflects Gatwick Express’ dual role as an airport service and a commuting service to London Victoria.
The current standard off-peak pattern on weekdays and on Saturdays is two Gatwick Express services operating to/from London Victoria and Gatwick Airport and two operating to/from London Victoria and Brighton.
On Sundays, up to four Gatwick Express services operate between London Victoria and Gatwick Airport per hour. There is no Gatwick Express service to Brighton on Sundays.
In the dedicated timetable effective 17 May 2020:
- On weekdays, with the exception of the two busiest peak hours, the Gatwick Express service will operate as half-hourly with longer 12 carriage trains, with all going through to Brighton
- On Saturdays, the Gatwick Express service will operate as half-hourly with longer 12 carriage trains, with all going through to Brighton. This means for Brighton it is the same service as today, but with longer trains
- On Sundays, the Gatwick Express service will operate as half-hourly between London Victoria and Gatwick only
Find out more
You can find out more about the Gatwick Airport railway station upgrade at: https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/our-routes/sussex/upgrading-the-brighton-main-line/gatwick-airport-station-upgrade/
We believe that the input of our customers is key to making the upgrade a success.
As a precautionary measure, planned drop-in sessions in March and April will be rescheduled at stations across the network as soon as we can, with new dates to follow.
You’ll see lots of marketing and communications activity all across the network from spring 2020 as we work to ensure customers know about the upgrade and what it means for them.