Gatwick Express service 1984-2001

73210 73210 propels a Gatwick Express service just north of Clapham Junction towards Victoria on the afternoon of 22nd February 2001. GLV 489107 is leading the formation.

photograph by Colin Duff

These pages are to celebrate the push-and-pull stock used during 1984 to 2001 on the Gatwick Express service between London Victoria and Gatwick Airport. All of the eight new class 460 (8 Gat) EMUs are now in service with the push-and-pull stock which had served the route for 17 years being redeployed, although Gatwick Express has retained some stock to cover for non availability of class 460 EMUs.

This stock commenced full service on the route on 14th May 1984 replacing 4 Veg EMUs (4 Veps modified with some seats removed to accommodate luggage racks) which, being basically suburban units, did not provide the level of comfort expected by passengers accustomed to air services.

In the true Southern make-do tradition new stock was not procured and existing handed-down BR stock was modified. Surplus class 73 EDLs were assigned to provide the majority of the traction power. Passenger accommodation was provided by refurbished and modified (revised seating plan, increased luggage rack space, plus handbrakes added to some coaches) Mk2 air-conditioned coaches available after the introduction of HST 125s on the Midland main line. Baggage/guards accommodation was provided by "Gatwick Luggage Vans" (GLVs) converted from 2 Hap driving motor coaches, re-designated class 489.

With each train consisting of trailer coaches sandwiched between an EDL normally at the south end and a GLV at normally the north end it was originally conceived that the trailer coaches would be formed into 4 car sets each consisting of 1 first class open and 3 standard class opens. However they were introduced into service in 2 and 3 car sets, class 488/2 formed TFOH - TSOH (H = handbrake) and class 488/3 formed TSOH -TSO - TSOH. In the summer they ran as 8 car formations with the 488/2 set in the middle so that the first class accommodation would stop adjacent to the escalators at Gatwick Airport station. In winter they ran as 5 car formations with one 488/2 and one 488/3. Towards the end of their service on the route 5 car formations became the norm with the 1st class coach - by now termed "Club" - situated next to the GLV.

GLV 9301 is here in the original livery. It was on a trial train in 1983 before the service commenced. The location is East Croydon. Note the "3" target - the trains were originally numbered in this way, depending on which circuit (diagram) they were on. The unit behind the MLV is 8205. The train is in reverse formation - in service the GLV and 82xx set were at the London end. The smoke was from some demolition work behind the train!

photograph by John Lewis

9101 Platforms 1 and 2 at Gatwick Airport station are those regularly used by the Gatwick Express service (although sometimes platform 6 is also used) whilst other services use these platforms when they are empty. This is obviously not possible at the time of this picture taken during September 2000 with GLV 489101 occupying platform 2 and a fellow GLV platform 1.

photograph by Michael Taylor

73235 (left) and 73209 seen at the south end of Gatwick Airport station on 9th June 1999.

photograph by Michael Taylor


photograph by Colin Duff

"Classic" Gatwick Express stock still in service in autumn 2002! Here 73235 heads a down working trailed by GLV 9104 through Clapham Junction on 4th October 2002.

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This page was last updated 3 December 2002

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