The first new Thameslink trains serving Gatwick Airport are on track to begin service from spring 2016 on the Brighton to Bedford line, the manufacturer Siemens has announced.
From 2018, these new trains will also start operating on two new direct services connecting Gatwick to both Peterborough and Cambridge, following completion of the £6.5 billion Thameslink infrastructure upgrade programme.
In addition, new Gatwick Express trains will also start service between the airport and London Victoria from early 2016, with 108 new carriages built by Bombardier being designed specifically for the airport passenger.
The new trains will deliver more seats and mean rail capacity through Gatwick will double and a train will leave the airport for London every three minutes.
The new high frequency train service from Gatwick means that every hour an indicative timetable would be four dedicated Gatwick Express trains to Victoria as well as six trains to Victoria – originating from East and West Coastway, Horsham/Littlehampton, and Three Bridges/Haywards Heath.
The station will also see four trains to Bedford via London Bridge, originating from Gatwick and Brighton, two trains to Cambridge via London Bridge, again originating from Brighton, and two trains to Peterborough via London Bridge, originating from Horsham.
Finally there will be two trains to London Bridge, originating from Littlehampton/West Coastway, and Haywards Heath/Three Bridges.
In total, Siemens is building 55 new 12-car trains and 60 new eight-car trains for the Thameslink fleet, with the first set to arrive this summer into the purpose-built Three Bridges depot in Crawley, one of two new depots being constructed by Siemens to maintain the new fleet.
The improvements in services will be matched by a £120.5 million redesign to transform Gatwick Airport railway station by 2020 – more than doubling the size of the concourse area so it can comfortably meet the expected increase in passenger numbers.
Guy Stephenson, Gatwick chief commercial officer, said: “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.”