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Gatwick express versus regular train to Gatwick

Gatwick express versus regular train to Gatwick

Old Jan 14th, 2011, 12:22 PM
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Gatwick express versus regular train to Gatwick

On the trainline.co site there are trains from both London Bridge and Victoria to Gatwick Airport. Some are considerably cheaper than the Gatwick express. What's the difference? Do they arrive at the same place in Gatwick (e.g. right at the airport) or do you need to transfer in some way? I've taken the Gatwick express but now that I see this option I wonder why anyone would pay so much extra. What does the Gatwick express give you that the regular train doesn't? Thanks
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Old Jan 14th, 2011, 12:30 PM
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The difference is 5 to 10 min and may be 1 stop (but lots of trains are nonstop). Both go to Victoria station. Now there is a sale and some departures are just 5 pounds http://southernrailway.com
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Old Jan 14th, 2011, 12:35 PM
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Also, at least in theory, the express trains have more room for luggage, because you're not competing with commuters. If you aren't loaded down, I don't think it matters much.

I have taken both the Southern Train to Victoria, and the First Capital Connect train to Kings Cross, and both were fine.
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Old Jan 14th, 2011, 12:45 PM
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Unless I've landed at Gatwick and the next regular (non Gatwick Express train) is more than 20 minutes, I will always wait for a regular (Southern) train. I never take Gatwick Express to Gatwick unless I'm traveling on business and they are picking up the tab. The traveling difference between Victoria and Gatwick is like 5 minutes and twice the price.
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Old Jan 14th, 2011, 12:53 PM
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Thanks. I thought so but just wanted to be sure. In addition to the 5£ sale if you booked online it was 50% off so I got two tickets for 5£ - almost 30£ saving over Gatwick express!! Sure hope I'm not missing anything here. People are always talking about tube versus Heathrow Express but I never see any mention of using regular train vs Gatwick express so can't help but wonder why that is.
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Old Jan 14th, 2011, 01:49 PM
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There have been threads about this before, though none in recent months. Maybe not many Fodorites travel through Gatwick, or don't need to ask about it.
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Old Jan 14th, 2011, 02:26 PM
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I've taken both the Express from Victoria and the regular train to King's Cross. The Express was nicer, roomier, and less packed with people, but the regular train was completely fine. I don't think you're missing anything and wouldn't hesitate to take the regular train again.
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Old Jan 14th, 2011, 02:31 PM
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Actually, the time difference may be nil -- some trains to London Bridge take 29 minutes to 30 for the G'Ex to Victoria. But the speed of the G'Ex is overstated -- they may have faster engines, but the route is so crowded that the train won't go near top speed for more than a couple of minutes, thus the Southern lines are a relative bargain.
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Old Jan 14th, 2011, 03:20 PM
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I've done both and the biggest differences were 1)price and 2)Southern Trains make a couple of stops. I would take Southern Trains as I don't think the GEX is worth the extra expense.
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Old Jan 14th, 2011, 04:01 PM
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The regular train is just fine - and a bargain compared to the Gatwick Express. Go for the regular train.
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Old Jan 15th, 2011, 12:10 AM
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It should be said that this question usually attracts quite a few Gatwick Express fans.

Their argument is that, if arriving early on a weekday morning, non-GEX trains tend to be full of ex-Brighton commuters when they arrive at Gatwick. This is probably true: transatlantic passengers typically emerge from immigration and baggage claim more or less at the height of the morning rush hour. There's a similar argument about leaving London during evening rush hours.

Personally, for a 30 min journey, I can't see the logic. No-one avoids getting the tube from the Tower to Bayswater because they might have to stand, and it's not as if the airport experience is a study in rural calm. Some people get particularly concerned about their luggage in crowded trains, as if it was even conceivable someone might be travelling 60 miles each way (at our ticket prices!!!) on the off chance of running away with 40lbs of dirty underwear. But obviously, it's something that worries some people, and a car absolutely never is an option on weekdays.

Worth going onto the GEX site (www.gatwickexpress.com) to check for promotions (like the 4 for 2 deals) if you share these people's concerns.
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Old Jan 15th, 2011, 12:40 AM
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We have done this journey many times and would never spend the extra on the Gatwick Express. There are two other, cheaper, train lines and both are fine. I really can't see why people would spend so much more on the Gatwick Express when the other trains take almost the same amount of time and always (in our experience) have seats and luggage space.

It is worth researching online the tickets prices and timetables as the fares shown on the ticket machines can seem a little incomprehensible at times and the queues at ticket windows can be extremely long. If you know roughly what you should be paying it does help. Also be careful to check which train company your ticket is valid for, if you accidentally catch the wrong train you can be fined. If in doubt, ask someone on the platform.

Kay
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Old Jan 15th, 2011, 06:47 AM
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With both options: Do you have to purchase tickets for a particular train? Or can you buy tickets good for any train on a given day?
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Old Jan 15th, 2011, 10:30 AM
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pavot, we pre-booked our tickets for the Gatwick Express, but I don't know if that was necessary. (It did make our early morning less stressful.) For the regular train going into London, we just bought the tickets when we got to the Gatwick train station area. I didn't want to prebook and then have our flight be late. We had no problems doing so.
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Old Jan 15th, 2011, 01:42 PM
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The prices are all different so if you buy a ticket for the Gatwick Express, that will be dearer and that's the train you must use. With the two other train companies, Southern and First Capital Connect, you can buy a ticket that you can use on either train, or buy a different ticket that is only for use on one of those companies. They are different prices and your ticket will have fine print on it, saying if it's only for use on, say, FCC.

There are also options for buying an open ticket, good for any train time, or for a particular train. The prices in the UK can be confusing, check out www.nationalrail.co.uk or www.thetrainline.co.uk

We would not usually buy a ticket in advance, we'd go to the ticket machines on arrival but know what we were looking for.

Kay
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Old Jan 15th, 2011, 05:57 PM
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The only time we used the Southern train into Victoria, we had arrived at rush hour and had to stand almost all the way into town while frequently moving our luggage out of the way of other passengers. After an overnight flight and no sleep, I prefer the Express.
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