Gatwick's huge plans to boost rail capacity

First published in News

New plans have revealed rail capacity will be trebled on one of the most congested networks in the country. New platforms and track will be designed to separate fast and slow trains and reduce bottlenecks, while better signalling technology on the Brighton mainline will improve resilience and reliability, Gatwick Airport bosses promised. The taxpayer will face no extra costs with predictions that air travellers would generate £3 billion in rail ticket sales each year. Gatwick pledged the service changes will bring 15 million people to within 60 minutes of the airport – more than any other in the country. The man who masterminded transport at the London 2012 Olympic Games is behind the plans, part of the airport’s bid to be “rail and road ready” for expansion by 2021. Commuters are also expected to benefit with extra passengers helping to fill trains in both directions off-peak and in the opposite direction to commuters during peak time. Work opportunities have been promised to deprived communities on the south coast with a possible second runway predicted to create 22,000 new jobs. The airport has promised to double capacity with 10,000 additional seats to the capital every hour by 2020. More improvements such as Brighton Mainline re-signalling and junction replacements will nearly treble capacity by 2035 if a new runway gets the go-ahead. Hugh Sumner, senior transport advisor for the airport, said: “Gatwick will be road and rail ready for a second runway by 2021 with no additional cost to the taxpayer. The ease at which these improvements can be delivered adds yet more weight to the obvious case for a new runway at Gatwick. “Gatwick already has the highest proportion of passengers travelling by public transport and these improvements will help encourage even more. We want 60% of our customers to use public transport, comparable with the best globally and better than any UK airport.” Most of the improvements, such as new Gatwick Express trains in 2016, will be introduced regardless of whether Gatwick gets a second runway. Upgrades are also being planned to the M25 and M23 . Bruce Williamson, of pressure group Rail Future, said: “Any improvements in capacity are very welcome because the network is at bursting point. “The targets do seem very ambitious and I would like to see a lot more detail. Good luck to them if they can pull it off.”

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