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3 February 2014, 13:48 | Updated: 3 February 2014, 14:08
London Gatwick has today opened Platform 7 at its Gatwick Airport rail station, as a £53m joint project with Network Rail is completed.
Transport Minister Baroness Kramer was on site to officially open the platform that will deliver greater reliability for airport passengers and commuters.
The project was made possible because of a joint campaign between Gatwick Airport, local business groups and airlines who backed the delivery of this new platform and helped secure the investment needed.
The new platform and section of rail line will allow for fast trains from both London Bridge and London Victoria to travel through the station more quickly, with Gatwick contributing £7.5m to the project to ensure the upgrade could take place.
Passengers and commuters can already travel between Gatwick and London Victoria in 30 minutes, Gatwick and London Bridge in 28 minutes and be in the financial district of Canary Wharf in under 45 minutes. Signalling upgrades will allow for more reliable travelling times in preparation for service improvements associated with the Thameslink Programme upgrade, which increases the number of trains and range of destinations from Gatwick from 2018.
The project also incorporates wider benefits that will allow for a better passenger experience throughout the airport. The station concourse itself has seen a major refurbishment with new flooring providing an open and light space.
Stewart Wingate, London Gatwick Chief Executive, said: 'London Gatwick is already the best connected UK airport by rail and this upgrade will benefit the broad range of people that the airport station attracts, from tourists to the business traveller. It will allow us to compete even more for passengers and airlines wanting to come to London and the South East region.
'This is the first step in our vision for a further major redevelopment of the airport station the Gatwick Gateway. We recognised that with over 14 million people arriving or departing by rail that an investment had to be made to improve the passenger experience in and around the airport.'
Baroness Kramer, Transport Minister, said: 'Gatwick makes a vital contribution to the UK economy and we must make sure facilities are upgraded for the benefit of passengers. That is why we have committed a further £50 million towards the complete redevelopment of the station. I am delighted to open this new platform and thank staff for their work during horrendous weather."
The project is part of a wider planned redevelopment of the airport station that was boosted by the Government announcing that it will contribute £50m of funding to kick-start the redevelopment – The Gatwick Gateway.
Today’s opening is also the beginning of a rail improvement programme that will see on-going upgrades over the next four to five years at Gatwick Airport station.
The Thameslink programme will provide an additional 50% capacity by 2018 following the introduction of new longer trains and infrastructure improvement that will deliver direct links from Gatwick to Peterborough and Cambridge.