London Gatwick has welcomed the UK government’s announcement it will contribute £50 million of funding to kick-start the redevelopment of Gatwick’s rail station – The Gatwick Gateway.
The announcement, made as part of the revised National Infrastructure Plan, recognises Gatwick’s important role in UK aviation and the need to ensure a world-class railway station for both existing and future passengers.
The government’s funding commitment follows a letter from the independent chair of the Airports Commission, Sir Howard Davies, to the chancellor, which recognises Gatwick’s success in increasing the number of long haul destinations served, and includes a series of recommendations on improving surface access to enable passengers to more effectively access new and existing routes.
Of the 35 million passengers using Gatwick airport each year, 14 million arrive or depart by rail; making it the busiest airport station in Britain.
Not only does the airport provide the fastest routes into the City and West End, it also connects directly to over 120 stations throughout London and the south-east.
This connectivity will be further improved upon completion of a £53 million project to improve platform capacity in early 2014 and with the introduction of the Thameslink franchise later that year.
As passenger numbers at Gatwick continue to grow, with new airlines flying to more destinations, the redevelopment will be “vital” in ensuring a world-class passenger experience both now and in the future, the airport said in a statement.
The airport’s analysis with Network Rail shows that a station with this number of passengers requires a concourse at least double the size of the existing facilities just to meet the current demand.
The National Infrastructure Plan also outlined a number of further measures for surface access at Gatwick, including accelerating a Network Rail study into the Brighton Mainline, incorporating the Gatwick to London route on a planned trial of smart ticketing and including access to Gatwick in the Highways Agency study on local motorways.
Commenting on the announcement, London Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate, said: “We are pleased that the Airports Commission has taken on board our recommendations on how to ensure growth at our airport in the short and medium term and maintain the UK’s position as one of the best connected countries in the world.
“This new funding is a welcome and positive first step toward delivering the new Gatwick Gateway rail station. We have worked well with Network Rail on our current rail improvement project and are looking forward to working with them, the Treasury and the Department for Transport to leverage this initial investment.
“Gatwick currently has the highest percentage of passengers accessing the airport by rail of any UK airport and as we continue to grow the number of global routes served by legacy, charter and low cost airlines, the package of measures announced today will help us deliver a world-class passenger experience for Britons and visitors alike.”