Gatwick Express Review

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

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:

Departure board

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:

Old Train

On board the seats are fine, but there is only 1/2 of one coach with First Class so it can get busy.

 

First Class Seats

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!

Free Coffee

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.

Gatwick South Terminal

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Comments

  1. It’s worth knowing that the Gatwick Express used to only run between London Victoria and Gatwick Airport (it was a great service with excellent coaches). However it now runs between London and Brighton, with Gatwick being the only intermediate stop. The effect of this is that the train is nearly always jam packed full with people travelling from or to Brighton. When you get on at Gatwick finding a seat is near impossible. If you have luggage…bad luck. For £33.20 return you mostly get to stand.

    In addition, as mentioned in your article, the bright, light and comfortable coaches have been replaced with older ones.

    Having travelled on this service for years I am well qualified to say that it has drastically declined in quality and greatly increased in price. You are much better off using a different service to London.

  2. I find the train which stops at East Croydon to be perfectly adequate. Fairly modern carriages, only one stop and several pounds cheaper.

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