More trains arriving on busy rail routes

Stock Market statement
For immediate release: 07.00 04 April 2007

More trains arriving on busy rail routes

The Department for Transport today announced a package of improvements that includes expanding the Gatwick Express service, building new trains and leasing more carriages to provide more than 12,000 extra seats. Service changes and capacity improvements will be in place by December 2008.  They include:

  • The Gatwick Express will be retained as a non-stop service between Gatwick Airport and London every 15 minutes. Premium, fast services for air passengers will be retained, as will the current timetable. At the busiest times of day the service will also run beyond Gatwick to Brighton, doubling the number of express trains between Brighton and London Victoria in the high peak.
  • An extra 48 carriages will be made available on the Thameslink route operated by First Capital Connect. The first 16 will begin operating on the line, which runs from Bedford to Brighton through Central London, by the end of 2007 with all 48 in place by December 2008. The extra coaches will be transferred from Southern.
  • Southern will replace these carriages with 48 new Electrostar coaches (the same model as the rest of its fleet).

The current Gatwick Express franchise will end in May 2008.  All services will be incorporated into the Southern Franchise to integrate the service changes, which will be implemented in December 2008.  

ENDS

Notes to editors:

1. The new Gatwick Express service will begin in December 2008 under the same branding and with the same frequency to and from the airport. Luggage storage and multi-lingual announcements will continue to be provided to ensure the needs of airport passengers are met

2. The current Gatwick Express franchise is owned by National Express.  The franchise was previously due to expire in May 2011.  DfT will exercise a no-fault termination clause to facilitate the changes.

3. Southern is owned by Govia plc, which itself is a joint venture between the Go-Ahead Group plc and Keolis.  The current franchise is due to expire in December 2009.

4. Six Gatwick Express trains in the 90-minute height of the morning peak will start at Brighton, calling at Haywards Heath, Gatwick and London Victoria. Some will also call at intermediate stations including Preston Park, Hassocks, Burgess Hill and Wivelsfield. The same service will return southbound in the evening high peak. These trains will comprise a minimum of 10 carriages - compared with the current 7-car Gatwick Express trains.

5. Extra carriages for the service will be provided by Southern probably leasing some of the class 442 fleet which is currently not in use.

6. At least two extra trains will run between Redhill and London Victoria in both the morning and evening peak, calling also at Merstham, Coulsdon South, East Croydon and Clapham Junction. Further services and stops may be included in the finalised timetable.

7. The changes are the result of the Brighton Main Line Route Utilisation Strategy, which was published on 2 February 2006. Its aim is to improve the journeys for the majority of users of the route, improving punctuality and capacity at peak times while retaining a high-quality airport service.

8. A consultation on the implementation of the strategy was held from 29 September 2006 to 22 December 2006. A Stakeholder Briefing Document which outlines the new arrangements and summarises consultation response is also published today and is on the DfT website

9. Southern are commissioning 48 new 377 class carriages from Porterbrook Leasing who will place an order with manufacturers Bombardier. As the vehicles enter service they will allow the transfer of Southern's remaining class 319s to First Capital Connect - ahead of their scheduled transfer by January 1st 2010.  The profile for FCC is as provided for in their existing Franchise Agreement.

10. The 319 units are the only trains at present that meet the unique operating characteristics of the Thameslink route, which demands that rolling stock must be capable of operating both on the 25kv overhead and the 750volt dc third-rail electrification systems and also fits through narrow Central London tunnels.

11. A press statement outlining the new services and extra capacity is being made on 04 April 2007

12. For more information please contact the Department for Transport press office on 0207 944 3108.