London Gatwick has officially opened a new platform at its railway station today (Monday February 3) following a £53m joint project with Network Rail.
Crawley MP Henry Smith, the town’s mayor Cllr Bob Burgess and the transport minister Baroness Kramer were invited to welcome the first train into platform seven and unveil a commemorative plaque.
The project, which will allow faster trains to run between the airport and London stations, also included a major refurbishment of the station concourse.
Signalling upgrades will allow for more reliable travelling times in preparation for service improvements associated with the Thameslink Programme upgrade, which increases the number of trains and range of destinations from Gatwick from 2018.
Stewart Wingate, London Gatwick chief executive, said: “London Gatwick is already the best connected UK airport by rail and this upgrade will benefit the broad range of people that the airport station attracts, from tourists to the business traveller. It will allow us to compete even more for passengers and airlines wanting to come to London and the South East region.
“This is the first step in our vision for a further major redevelopment of the airport station – the Gatwick Gateway. We recognised that with over 14 million people arriving or departing by rail that an investment had to be made to improve the passenger experience in and around the airport.”
Baroness Kramer said: “Gatwick makes a vital contribution to the UK economy and we must make sure facilities are upgraded for the benefit of passengers. That is why we have committed a further £50 million towards the complete redevelopment of the station. I am delighted to open this new platform and thank staff for their work during horrendous weather.”
The project is part of a wider planned redevelopment of the airport station that was boosted by the Government announcing that it will contribute £50m of funding to kick-start the redevelopment – The Gatwick Gateway.
Today’s opening is also the beginning of a rail improvement programme that will see on-going upgrades over the next four to five years at Gatwick Airport station.
The Thameslink programme will provide an additional 50 per cent capacity by 2018 following the introduction of new longer trains and infrastructure improvement that will deliver direct links from Gatwick to Peterborough and Cambridge.