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The arrivals area of Gatwick airport station is now open, with the commitment to improve travel experiences.
The £250 million endeavor, incorporated into Gatwick’s South Terminal, received its inaugural train at 5:46am on Tuesday. Travellers on the Thameslink route from Bedford through central London were able to utilize new, efficient lifts and escalators to access a newly constructed arrivals area – situated above seven platforms on one of the most heavily trafficked railways in the nation.
The current situation at the airport is vastly different from past experiences, where travelers were directed to older facilities constructed in the 1960s. During that time, Gatwick only served approximately 4 million passengers per year. However, with the increase in capacity to over 10 times that amount, the railway station facilities have remained insufficient for the large number of passengers.
The journey from the platform to the terminal will take less than a minute for most people because there won’t be any congestion from passengers going in the opposite direction.
At the same time, individuals who arrived on the initial flights from Addis Ababa, Doha, and New York had exclusive access to the departure area for trains. This space was previously shared with those arriving by train.
In an interview with The Independent, Stewart Wingate – the CEO of Gatwick – expressed his excitement about the long-awaited opening of the new station, which has been in the works since 2015 in collaboration with Network Rail. It is a great accomplishment to finally have it available for passengers to utilize.
“Travelers will notice a significant change. Approximately 40% of our passengers and employees utilize trains for transportation to and from the airport.”
In the upcoming years, we hope to have 60% of our passengers and employees utilize environmentally-friendly transportation methods when traveling to and from the airport.
Prior to the outbreak of Covid, Gatwick’s train station was among the top 20 busiest in the United Kingdom, with significantly higher numbers of passengers compared to major transportation hubs like Liverpool Lime Street and Cardiff Central.
The number of passengers significantly decreased during the pandemic, but is now bouncing back with a large influx – some flights to Europe are even exceeding pre-Covid levels by 100%.
Jordan Gill, the main architect at Systra who was responsible for creating the station, stated: “Network Rail tasked us with addressing three main issues: safety concerns, overcrowding, and improving the overall passenger experience at Gatwick.”
The main focus of our efforts was to establish a brand new concourse area, serving as a warm reception for visitors at Gatwick airport.
In the past, all traffic, including arriving and departing passengers, would use the outdated concourse that was constructed in the 1960s and had not been updated in at least 40 years.
“If individuals are able to simply pass through and experience a positive impression of the airport, then I believe our efforts have been successful. Our main goal is to transport individuals into the airport space in a secure and efficient manner.”
The limited space of the 1960s station still remains an issue, as platform 4, the primary departure point for central London, continues to experience high passenger traffic. However, recent track improvements have created the opportunity for multiple platforms to accommodate trains heading in both north and south directions, helping to alleviate congestion.
At present, 15 trains travel to London per hour, serving Victoria (the final stop for Southern and Gatwick Express) and the Thameslink line through Blackfriars to St Pancras.
Gatwick also offers direct train services to London and other destinations including Cambridge, Peterborough, Bedford, Brighton, and the rest of the southern coast. Additionally, there is a connection to Reading for those traveling to the western part of England.
Listen to Simon Calder’s podcast report from the new Gatwick station