Gatwick – London’s Second, and until recently poor relation, airport is connected to Central London by overground trains. A number of train companies run services and the prices vary hugely. The best known one is the Gatwick Express and I wanted to write a post about how hard it is to know what the right price for the journey is.
Buying a ticket
These are the standard prices on the Gatwick Express web site – note they are at least 10% cheaper than buying them at the airport.
However, a number of train companies offer an add on from London to Gatwick for very little more than their fare to London. A prime example is the train company who operates services from Edinburgh, York, Newcastle and Peterborough to Kings Cross. You can collect tickets from machines at a wide range of stations, not just the one where you are starting your journey. I looked at fares from Peterborough to Gatwick airport, using the Gatwick Express from Victoria to the airport.
So you can see here that a single from Peterborough to Gatwick is £15.80 but the fare from Victoria to Gatwick is £16.85.
Ticket barriers don’t check whether you started in Peterborough and so you can save £1 by booking the longer journey and just not using the ticket from Peterborough. There are other examples I am told. Warning – you often need to book early to get the best prices on this method.
Recently I had to travel from Tottenham Hale, at the North End of the Victoria Line to Gatwick – my return, including the tube was £39.30 in First Class whilst the fare if I had started in Victoria would have been £44.50. This doesn’t require an advance purchase requirement and I only booked 3 days in advance.
The service operates every 15 minutes – or is supposed to. My journey was more interesting in that when I arrived at Victoria the display showed this:
The last time I used this service they had some new, very smart trains in service. However, it seems that these are few and far between these days and a lot of the services (at least 90% of the ones I used or saw), use old trains converted with new seats, luggage racks etc.
These are the old trains:
On board the seats are fine, but there is only 1/2 of one coach with First Class so it can get busy.
The service runs non-stop to Gatwick and there is free tea, coffee and water for First Class ticket holders. No one ever came to check our tickets on board – in either direction!
Arrival at Gatwick
The train comes in to the South Terminal at Gatwick and the airport is immediately there – with a short train shuttle train to the North Terminal.