The Anonymous Widower

The Rise Of Gatwick Airport

I used to hate Gatwick Airport, but now on my short flights to Europe, I often find myself using the Sussex airport, as it is usually an easier train ride, than Heathrow or Stansted.

The South East’s Next Runway

I am coming more to the conclusion, that despite the report of the Airports Commission, Heathrow Airport will never have a third runway, but Gatwick may get a second one, as they can start to plan, for when the deal to not build a second runway with Sussex County Council, runs out in 2019.

  • No serious candidate for London Mayor would win an election if they proposed a third runway at Heathrow.
  • Heathrow is surrounded by housing, whereas Gatwick is surrounded by more much open countryside.
  • The protests over another runway at Heathrow would be enormous.
  • In a few years time, Gatwick will have the better rail links and fifteen million people will live within an hour’s train journey of the Airport.

But the main reason is that building a second runway at Gatwick will be a lot easier. Just look at this Google Map of Gatwick Airport.

Gatwick Airport

Gatwick Airport

Note the following about the map and the expansion of Gatwick Airport.

  • The second runway will be built to the South of the existing runway.
  • There doesn’t appear to be much housing in the area of the proposed new runway.
  • The M23 Motorway and the Brighton Main Line run North-South to the East of the Airport.
  • A third terminal would be built near to the existing railway line.
  • Note in the map, that in addition to the single runway, the taxiway can be used as a runway, if say the runway is under repair or blocked.

The second runway would increase the capacity of the Airport to over 80 million passengers a year.

I’ve always believed that Gatwick could also build a North-South runway over the M23. This was proposed in the 1980s by pilots and with the capability of aircraft increasing all the time, I don’t rule it out at some time in the future.

The Biggest Airport Terminal In The World

I have argued in the past, that when Crossrail and Thameslink are completed, then the following airports and international rail stations will be connected together.

There will also be an easy link to HS2 for the North and Scotland.

As passengers will be increasingly savvy, in many cases they will organise their travel to what is best for them and not the travel agents, airlines and the airports.

I believe that London will sell itself, as a place to break that long journey, just as Singapore and Dubai have done for years.

As the North of England, Scotland and Wales always say, London always wins!

But then London is the capital of the world!

Rail Links To Heathrow Airport

Crossrail should give Heathrow Airport a world-class link to Central London, if they can sort out Crossrail’s access problems to the airport, that I wrote about in Heathrow Express And Crossrail.

The over-priced joke that is Heathrow Express will be on borrowed time once Crossrail opens in 2019.

But there will still be problems with rail access to Heathrow Airport.

  • Terminal 5 will not be connected to Crossrail.
  • Changing terminals at Heathrow is a chore.
  • Heathrow Express only takes passengers to and from Paddington.
  • There is no direct rail access to Reading for the West.
  • For some parts of London, the Piccadilly Line will still be the best way to go to and from the Airport.
  • Access to Continental rail services from Heathrow will be difficult.

You would never describe Heathrow as fully integrated into the the UK’s rail network.

Heathrow will of course argue, that links to Central London are excellent and that those continuing their journey will just change terminals and be on their way.

Obviously, improvements will come, but nothing important for passengers will happen, until Heathrow puts passengers first and drops it’s arrogant attitude, which thinks it is London’s only airport.

Rail Links To Stansted Airport

Stansted Airport has the Stansted Express from Liverpool Street, which runs about four times an hour.

I believe in the next few years, the following will happen.

  • Crossrail will arrive at Liverpool Street in 2019, giving one-change journeys to and from Heathrow.
  • The West Anglia Main Line will be four-tracked, allowing faster Stansted Express services.
  • An improved rail service will be provided to the increasingly important rail hub at Cambridge.
  • An extra Stansted Express service will run to Stratford via the new Lea Bridge station.
  • Stansted Express will probably get new air passenger-friendly trains.

But the biggest improvement of rail services to Stansted Airport will come, when and if Crossrail 2 is built, as this will make travel to the airport from all over London a lot easier, with just a single change at Tottenham Hale or Broxbourne.

I also wouldn’t be surprised to see some Crossrail 2 trains extended to Stansted. After all, the tracks exist and if the airport said to Transport for London, here’s a few million from our petty cash to run Crossrail 2 to Stansted, I’m sure TfL would oblige!

This would give Stansted Airport one-change services to Gatwick, Heathrow and Luton airports, Continental Rail Services and HS2.

Rail Links To Luton Airport

Luton Airport has its own Thameslink station at Luton Airport Parkway.

But also it has plans to expand, as is reported in this article in the Daily Mail, entitled Luton Airport reveals plans for direct rail line that would cut train journey from central London to just 20 minutes.

I think that Luton Airport could use something like Class 387/2 trains, as used on Gatwick Express with an IPEMU capability, so that they could use a branch line without any electrification to underneath the airport terminal.

Rail Links To Gatwick Airport

I found this article in TravelWeekly, which is entitled Gatwick outlines plans for a train departure to London every three minutes.

It gives a very good summary of the train services that will run to Gatwick after Thameslink is completed.

The planned hourly timetable would see:

•         Four dedicated Gatwick Express trains to Victoria
•         Six trains to Victoria – originating from East and West Coastway, Horsham/Littlehampton, and Three Bridges/Haywards Heath
•         Four trains to Bedford via London Bridge – originating from Gatwick and Brighton
•         Two trains to Cambridge via London Bridge – originating from Brighton
•         Two trains to Peterborough via London Bridge – originating from Horsham
•         Two trains to London Bridge – originating from Littlehampton/West Coastway, and Haywards Heath/Three Bridges.

That is a total of twenty trains to and from London and beyond and most of the South Coast from Southampton to Hastings.

How many better rail-connected airports are there anywhere in the world?

The article also quotes Guy Stephenson, the Airport’s Chief Commercial Officer as saying.

The new high frequency service that will serve Gatwick will transform rail journeys for our passengers, with capacity doubling and a train to London every three minutes.

Crucially, the new trains will be much more reliable and will be stacked with amenities suited to the needs of air travellers.  Combined with robust new track and signalling systems, Gatwick’s passengers will experience a really pleasant and dependable service.

Overall, the improvements to Gatwick’s rail service means that 15 million people will be brought within 60 minutes of Gatwick by rail – the best reach of any UK airport,

Reading the article, you might think that Thameslink should be called Gatwicklink!

According to this Press Release on the Gatwick Airport web site, Gatwick Airport are going to spend £120.5million on updating the rail station. This is an architect’s impression of the new station.


I also think that Gatwick could extend their Gatwick Express services.

I think we can also see development of Airport services to and from Gatwick Airport station based on the following existing services.

Will we be seeing a second Gatwick Express route from Ashford or Ebbsfleet to Reading via Gatwick Airport?


  • It would inevitably get known as the M25-on-rails.
  • It gives a large number of passengers a way to get to Gatwick and Continental Rail Services without going through Central London.
  • It could serve Heathrow, if they got their act together.
  • Surprisingly, I think this route will be quicker to go between Reading and Gatwick, than using Crossrail and Thameslink with a change at Farringdon.
  • The trains for such a service could be the same as the new Class 387/2 Gatwick Expresses, but with an IPEMU capability.

But it wouldn’t be just an Airport service, as I suspect that given adequate parking at stations, it would become a valuable cross-country route linking the rail hubs of Ebbsfleet, Gatwick and Reading. After all, North of London, the East West Rail Link is being created from Reading to Cambridge via Oxford, Milton Keynes and Bedford.

Southern also run a service from Milton Keynes to South Croydon via the West London Line. In the future this service will serve Old Oak Common station on Crossrail, HS2, the West Coast Main Line and the North London Line.

So will this service be extended from South Croydon to Gatwick and become a third Gatwick Express service?

These two additional Gatwick Express services would greatly increase or ease the airport’s links across the wider South East and to HS2 services out of Euston.

The only problem, is the overcrowding on the Brighton Main Line.


Gatwick will become the best rail-connected airport in the UK and will get a second runway!


February 10, 2016 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , ,


  1. […] The Rise Of Gatwick Airport, I said […]

    Pingback by Heathrow Expansion Under Legal Threat « The Anonymous Widower | March 4, 2016 | Reply

  2. […] Gatwick Airport is improving rail access as I wrote about in The Rise Of Gatwick Airport. […]

    Pingback by Birmingham International Station Set For £286m Revamp « The Anonymous Widower | May 3, 2018 | Reply

  3. […] In The Rise Of Gatwick Airport, I wrote this about the rail connections to Gatwick Airport. […]

    Pingback by Gatwick Sets Out Ambitious Future Growth Plan, Including Routine Use Of Its Existing Standby Runway « The Anonymous Widower | October 19, 2018 | Reply

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