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Gatwick Express v Southern line trains

Old Jul 30th, 2008, 11:02 AM
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Gatwick Express v Southern line trains

Do Gatwick Express and Southern line trains both go to the same place at Gatwick Airport? If not, where do Southern line trains go? Are both trains reliable and run on schedule? If so - why would you take the Gatwick Express (from Victoria station) when it's twice as much and not much/any faster than the Southern line?
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Old Jul 30th, 2008, 11:22 AM
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Southern gets more crowded at peak times - and that can be VERY crowded indeed (= standing), as it's a major commuter route. THe seats are a bit less comfy.

Southern's also a bit more exposed to minor delays: the more often a train stops and starts, the higher the possibilty some pillock will keep a door open or something. Oh, and you can pay on the Gatwick Express, whereas getting on the Southern train without a ticket means a fine.

Otherwise, it's the same place at Gatwick. Outside peak hours, I wouldn't waste the money on the Gatwick Express: during peak, in the peak direction, it's a matter of choice.
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Old Jul 30th, 2008, 11:38 AM
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I'm guessing that 3pm on a Saturday wouldnt be a problem on the Southern line?
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Old Jul 30th, 2008, 12:02 PM
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I spent a few hours each of the last few years watching trains come and go at Gatwick train station prior to my flights

and my observations were that there are major differences between the Gatwick Express and Southern Trains:

-- Gatwick Express trains have a dedicated siding and there are nearly always trains waiting when you show up - you can board leisurely and find luggage room leisurely, etc. and then sit in comfort on these really plush trains than stand on a potentially crowded platform and then jockey to enter a potentially seriously overcrowded train - no fun with luggage (and i've done it on Capital First trains to Kings X)

Souther trains come from points south and their 'dwell' time at Gatwick is brief - all the more a hectic experience

But the price differential can be huge - but the Gatwick Express promises a smooth leisurely way into London Victoria - Southern could be or it could be Hell on wheels IME

a lot depends on the time of day as Southern trains are commuter trains that could be full before they get to gatwick but at other times could be mainly empty - weekends should be less busy, etc.
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Old Jul 30th, 2008, 12:02 PM
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dmlove
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or even Friday at 2:00 p.m.?
 
Old Jul 30th, 2008, 12:53 PM
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I actually take trains from Clapham Junction every day (trains to Gatwick go through Clapham Junction - both the regular trains and the Express althoug the express obviously doesn't stop - regular train is platform 13, pretty much everything from platform 13 goes to the airport although keep an eye on the reader board for details), and have used both the Southern and the Express to get to and from the airport.

I'd agree with Flanneruk that the regular trains get relatively crowded at peak times, although if you're heading to the airport in the morning, or into London in the afternoon its against the main flow so isn't too bad. On the other hand if you're heading from the airport into London in the morning or vice versa, the regular train would be very busy.

The Gatwick Express doesn't have it's own track at the airport, although it does at Victoria station. The time it takes for both the Southern and the Express is actually fairly similar, however for me, the price difference is worth the extra time on the southern train - about 18 pounds return versus almost 60 on the express. The seats aren't that much different to be honest, and I'm not sure that it would make much difference on a 40 minute train journey anyway.

Having said all that, I tend to head to the airport early Saturday mornings and come home late Sunday nights. I used to take the express exclusively, but now I always take the regular train. If I was travelling at peak times, I'd probably use the express just for ease.

To answer your final question - 2pm on a Friday will be busy-ish but not bad, I'd personally go for the Southern train and spend the saved 20 quid at the duty-free =^D
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Old Jul 30th, 2008, 01:10 PM
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Gatwick Express will be sitting on the platform that is apparently dedicated to it

I sat and watched two hours twice - no other train that i saw used that platform

the attractiveness of the Gatwick Express always waiting there it seemed to me in my observations is a plus - esp with luggage and being able to board easily

i cannot say if the track for GEX is a dedicated one or not - other trains may come thru

but in 4 hours of watching GEX come and go they were nearly always waiting there and wen taking off the GEX from London rolled in and stayed put until leaving back for London 15 mins or later

but i should not have said dedicated - it looked like that in 4 hours of observation but may well not be - but for all practical purposes it was to me

Southern trains used the hectic middle platforms where trains were rolling by every few minutes it seemed and stopping only briefly
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Old Jul 30th, 2008, 02:11 PM
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Railway services in the U.K. are franchised to a number of different companies. Until recently, Gatwick Express was a separate franchise, but it is now part of Southern.

The Gatwick Express website states:
"In June 2008, the Gatwick Express service came under the stewardship of Southern Railway. Between the months of June and December, the service will continue to operate with the same frequency and calling pattern, using Class 460 trains. In December, six Gatwick Express services will be extended to begin their journeys from Brighton in the high morning peak hour, calling at intermediate stations to Gatwick, where the service will continue to run directly to London Victoria. In the evening high peak hour, six services will run fast from London Victoria to Gatwick and then on to Brighton, calling at intermediate stations. These extended services will use Class 442 trains, with the remainder of services using the existing Class 460s."

The idea is to increase capacity on the line to Brighton. Trains cannot be made longer, or run more frequently, so Gatwick Express trains will be used to carry commuters as well as airport passengers.

For the trainspotters amongst you, the Class 442 were formerly used on the Waterloo to Bournemouth line.

Time to hang up my anorak for the night.
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Old Jul 30th, 2008, 03:37 PM
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PQ: "I spent a few hours each of the last few years watching trains come and go at Gatwick train station prior to my flights . . . . Gatwick Express trains have a dedicated siding "

Things have changed since you observed the trains. As Chartley says, they are all part of the same company and use the same platforms now.

lmschmale: I make my decision mainly on the day/time I' taking the train from Gatwick. On a Saturday afternoon, you'll be fine on either train.

For going TO Gatwick, since I'm catching a flight and don't want any delays, I normally use the Express even if it is at a slow time of day. For reasons like flanner and BikerScott explained.
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Old Jul 30th, 2008, 03:52 PM
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janis - thanks for the update - i was train spotting just last Feb so thought it fairly current

but i've known about plans to better utilize GEX trains but did not realize it has happened - it makes them somewhat less convenient.

thank you for clarifying that
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