Gatwick Airport station passenger concourse impression

Network Rail upgrades UK’s busiest airport station

Network Rail worked on a 150 million pound upgrade to Gatwick Airport station during the holidays. With the growing number of passengers, the goal is to increase capacity, improve accessibility and deliver a better experience. The entire upgrade should be finished in 2023. It is part of a 750 million pound (830 million euro) project to modernise the railway across Sussex.

The United Kingdom’s busiest Airport station, Gatwick, sees more than 21 million air travellers and passengers every year. In 2010 this number was still 14 million. The station is getting an important upgrade to deal with the rising amount of passengers and increase its capacity.

In total, Network Rail is spending 750 million pounds to upgrade the network infrastructure and replace ageing equipment across the Sussex region with new, reliable digital signalling and train control, which will increase capacity, reduce delays and enhance safety. Next to the Gatwick Airport station works, Network Rail also worked on the replacement of two bridge decks of the Brighton Main Line at the Selsdon Road bridge near Croydon, south of London over the holidays.

Reducing delays

As part of the station upgrade, platforms 5 and 6 will be widened to reduce crowding. The rail station concourse will double in size to provide more space and better facilities for the high number of passengers. The connections to the airport terminals and passenger wayfinding are upgraded to improve passenger experience. Eight new escalators, five new lifts and four new stairways will be installed to improve accessibility and will allow passengers to board and alight trains more quickly. The goal is that trains spend less time on platforms, which reduces delays and supports a more reliable service.wor

Gatwick Airport station upgrade plans

Platform works

GTR, the train company that operates Gatwick Express, Thameslink and Southern services will operate a dedicated timetable during the project until 2023. The platform works prevent trains from stopping at some platforms and a 30mph speed restriction will be in place when trains pass through the worksite. During this time, there are 16 trains per hour in each direction through the station for the majority of the day, two fewer than usual. In September 2023 the last completion of the entire project should take place, the works are divided in the following four stages:

Enabling work: track 6 closed, taking platform 6 out of action – 26 April 2020
Stage 1: Platform 7 closed – 17 May 2020 – 1 Nov 2020
Stage 2: Platforms 5 & 6 closed – 1 Nov 2020 – May 2022
Stage 3: Platform 3 & 4 lift and staircase installed – 29 Sept 2020 – March 2023
Stage 4: Concourse work – September 2021 – March 2023

The Gatwick Airport is being managed by Network Rail in partnership with the Department for Transport and Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR). Gatwick Airport Ltd and Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership are co-funding the project with 37 million and 10 million pounds respectively. The project is being delivered by Costain.

Railway bridge

The Brighton Main Line and its branch lines in Sussex, are among the busiest and most congested in the country, carrying 1.700 trains and 300.000 passengers every weekday. Two bridge decks on all four tracks of the Brighton Main Line at the Selsdon Road bridge near Croydon, south of London were replaced during the holidays.

The replacement of bridge decks will provide greater resilience to the infrastructure and help reduce the risk of future bridge bashes. The Fast line deck was successfully completed over Christmas Day and Boxing Day with the Slow line deck delivered over the 27th and 28th of December. Works also included the installation of new ballast, track sleepers and running rails. Despite restricted access to the worksite due to the location of the bridge in a residential area, disruption was kept to a minimum. Covid marshals were appointed to help maintain a two metre distance between the workers.

“The new bridge delivers a stronger and more robust structure which better serves the community and the railway for many years to come”, says Shaun King, route director of Sussex. The railway in Sussex is made up of hundreds of overbridges, underbridges, footbridges and tunnels and Network Rail is investing 112 million pounds to replace or refurbish several structures on the route.

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Author: Esther Geerts

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