Gatwick Airport, once a pioneer in connected transport, faced a major challenge with its overcrowded railway station. But since November 21, 2023, passengers have been able to breathe a sigh of relief. With a £250 million upgrade, the railway station has doubled in size, offering a more spacious and efficient experience.
The problem was clear: as one of the busiest airports in Britain, Gatwick was struggling to keep up with the increasing number of passengers. Congestion and slow boarding caused disruptions not only at the airport but also across the Southern and Thameslink networks. Safety and the passenger experience were compromised.
The solution came in the form of a major revamp. The railway station’s floor space was doubled, creating a separate area for arriving and departing passengers. Eight escalators and five large lifts were installed to cater to those with limited mobility or carrying heavy luggage. The wider platforms aim to facilitate faster boarding and disembarking, ultimately improving punctuality.
Gatwick’s aspiration is to have three out of five passengers arriving at the airport by public or ultra-low emission transport by 2030. The upgraded railway station plays a crucial role in achieving this goal. Currently, 40% of passengers arrive at Gatwick by rail, a figure that has nearly doubled in the past two decades.
Notably, the £250 million upgrade was primarily funded by the taxpayer (£200 million), with contributions from London Gatwick Airport (£42 million) and Coast to Capital (£8 million). Although the cost may seem high, it is essential to consider the scale and complexity of the project, taking place within a fully operational airport and above live railway tracks.
Despite the decline in passenger numbers due to the pandemic, Gatwick’s recovery has been strong. Stewart Wingate, the airport’s chief executive, anticipates a future growth of up to 78 million passengers in the late 2030s. As part of their growth plans, Gatwick is also exploring the routine use of their northern runway.
With Gatwick’s new station now open, passengers will enjoy wider platforms, improved signage, more reliable trains, and even a “Gatwick Museum” above certain platforms. Although traditional retail outlets and a ticket office are absent, staff members are on hand to assist passengers with ticketing needs.
While rail strikes may cause some disruptions in early December, mainline services between London, Gatwick, and Brighton are expected to run, albeit with potential crowding. Passengers connecting from other parts of England may face more challenges.
Gatwick Airport’s transformation represents a significant milestone in improving the passenger experience and achieving sustainable transport goals. The upgrade not only addresses immediate capacity issues but also sets the stage for future growth and development.
1. How was the upgrade of Gatwick Airport’s railway station funded?
The £250 million upgrade was primarily funded by the taxpayer (£200 million), with contributions from London Gatwick Airport (£42 million) and Coast to Capital (£8 million).
2. What improvements were made to the railway station?
The upgrades included doubling the available floor space, creating separate areas for arriving and departing passengers, installing eight escalators and five large lifts, and widening platforms.
3. What is Gatwick Airport’s goal for passenger transport by 2030?
Gatwick aspires to have three out of five passengers arriving at the airport by public or ultra-low emission transport by 2030.
4. Will Gatwick’s railway station improve punctuality?
The wider platforms and improved boarding and disembarking processes are expected to enhance punctuality for passengers.
5. Are there any retail outlets at Gatwick’s new railway station?
No, traditional retail outlets are not present at the new station. There is also no ticket office, but staff members are available to assist passengers with ticketing needs.