In an effort to address congestion on the Brighton/London rail line (and save the dedicated Gatwick Express service) the operators of the airport have suggested that Gatwick Express trains should start further down the line at Three Bridges.
The trains would spend ten minutes at the platform instead of the current 20 but there would still be 4 trains per hour, which would be timetabled to reduce the risk of clashes with Southern and Thameslink trains on the same track.
Commuters from Three Bridges would be able to take the Gatwick Express although it is likely that they would have to pay the premium price that the express service commands.
ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP COMMENT
British Airport Authority’s (BAA) proposals for restructuring services on the Brighton line do not meet either the current or future demands on a network, which is already one of the most crowded in the country. They only touch on the problems of crowding on the line and do not suggest a comprehensive solution which will be of benefit to the majority of passengers.
The Express service takes up a third of the capacity of the track which is shared, at least in part by both Southern and Thameslink, but carries less than 10% of the total number of passengers that use the line. Its carriages are rarely more than half full while Southern & Thameslink trains often have standing room only.
The current franchisee – Southern Trains - has improved performance on the Brighton main line considerably but without a fundamental restructuring of the services on the route there will inevitably be more crowding, slower journeys and worse punctuality for passengers going to or from Brighton. The limit to what can be achieved by tinkering with timetables has probably already been reached and the issue of maximizing the capacity of the existing track infrastructure is the only way to continue to improve services.
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British Airports Authority