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Gatwick Express celebrates 35 years of service

The team at Gatwick Express are preparing for birthday celebrations with passengers, staff and airport partners to mark 35 years of operations.

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Customer Service Host Antonio Tapia welcomes a passenger at the Gatwick Express portal at London Victoria

The Gatwick Express came into full service on 14 May 1984, transporting passengers from London Victoria to Gatwick Airport. The service was initially formed of Class 73 trains with specially modified coaches to carry passenger luggage.

Since launch, Gatwick Express has evolved; in 2007 the service was extended to and from Brighton, became part of the UK’s biggest rail franchise, Govia Thameslink Railway, in 2015, and saw a £145m fleet renewal programme in 2016.

At London Victoria on Tuesday morning, the team will be surprising passengers with limited edition organic tote bags with a string quartet serenading arrivals. A magician will also be on board a number of Gatwick Express services throughout the day, entertaining passengers with some close-up magic.

At Gatwick the team will be giving away cupcakes in the afternoon, alongside the string quartet’s entertainment. Angie Doll, Passenger Services Director for Southern and Gatwick Express, will also be cutting a special Gatwick Express train cake for staff to mark the birthday.

Stephen MacCallaugh, Head of Gatwick Express, took on the role in February 2017 after working as a Local Development Manager and Project Manager for Govia Thameslink Railway, and before this served as a Station Manager and Train Presentation Manager at various locations under First Capital Connect.

He said:

“The 35-year anniversary of operations is such an exciting occasion to be part of. It makes it even more special to be celebrating this event with the team.

“The Gatwick Express family make this a wonderful place to work; we’re looking forward to getting involved in the birthday activities with passengers at Victoria and Gatwick to celebrate,” he added.

Members of staff are marking the birthday by sharing some of their favourite memories of the Gatwick Express, including a number of celebrity spots.

Simone Forzani, Customer Service Host, said:

“So many famous people have passed through our gates: Richard Branson’s been here and I’ve seen David Cameron twice. But the one who made me swoon was Damian Lewis. He was carrying loads of bags and was struggling to get through the gateline. I offered to help but he couldn’t speak because he had his ticket in his mouth, poor man. So I took it from him, popped it through the gate and let him through. Everyone was staring at us. He was so grateful for my help and then Damian Lewis turned around and smiled – at me!“

Michael Green, On Board Supervisor, said:

“It’s the magic touches we give to our customers that set us apart. Gatwick Express has allowed me to be who I am. I often make tongue-in-cheek announcements to put a smile on the faces of my customers; most of them know me and I tailor my announcements for them.

“We want them to have the ultimate experience. We’re very family-orientated, very friendly and we always put the customer at the heart of what we do,” added Michael.

Basra Begum, Sales Clerk, said:

“I remember when I started we had training for two weeks. I learned how to do platforms, then ticket office, then I worked on the information desk. It was much more about multi-skilling in the early days. There were no computers: we all had manuals to check fares! I still enjoy working for Gatwick Express, that’s why I’ve stayed here so long.”

Nigel Geary-Andrews, On Board Supervisor, said:

“I remember one day Chris Eubank the boxer turned up at Victoria station. He asked me where the first-class compartment of the train was. He could see I recognised him, so he told me to come and find him later. I did go to see him and he insisted I have a photograph taken with him! He was a lovely man and although he’s no longer a boxer, he still looks like someone you’d wouldn’t want to have a fight with!”

As part of the celebrations, the Gatwick Express team invited prolific transport journalist and YouTuber, Geoff Marshall, to meet some of the staff that keep the 27 Gatwick Express trains running every day.  Watch the video here: http://bit.ly/2vSbhc5.

Looking ahead, a major station remodelling project will see further improvements for Gatwick Express passengers; in 2018 Network Rail submitted an application for a major transformation to reduce congestion and improve passenger experience.

Gatwick

EasyJet launch face masks for children flying this summer as airline prepare to restart flights from Gatwick

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New comic book style ‘Lion’ and ‘Pilot’ face mask covers will be made available for free to children flying with easyJet this Summer

A limited edition run of the mask covers will be available on selected routes over the summer

Initiative follows an announcement by easyJet that a small number of flights will restart from 15 June with more to be restored by July

The airline is introducing a range of new measures to help ensure safety and wellbeing including the requirement for customers and crew to wear masks and enhanced aircraft cleaning and disinfection. 

 Irish artist Will Sliney, best known for his work on Marvel comics Spider-Man and Star Wars, has teamed up with easyJet to launch a new range of new comic book inspired face mask covers for young flyers.

The campaign follows an announcement by Europe’s leading airline that a small number of  flights will restart from 15 June with new health and safety measures in place including for all passengers, including children over six, to wear their own protective face masks whilst onboard at all times. The new comic book face mask covers have been designed to help ease the experience for both kids and parents.

Two character themed ‘Lion’ and ‘Pilot’ masks will be made available for free to children flying with easyJet from airports across Europe this summer.

The face mask covers don’t replace the need for a mask to be worn but have been designed as a covering to be worn over the top of a younger traveller’s own face mask. They can be taken home to keep and are washable for re-use.

Thousands of face mask covers are being produced as part of a limited edition run and will be available on selected routes across Europe.

Captain David Morgan, easyJet’s Director of Flight Operations commented:

“We have teamed up with a comic illustrator to create some bespoke children face masks covers as we know the airport environment could feel different and possibly daunting for younger travellers when flying initially resumes. So we hope these face mask covers help children enjoy flying with us over the summer and this makes things a little easier for parents too.”

“The safety and wellbeing of our customers and crew remains our highest priority which is why, as well as requiring customers and crew to wear masks, we are implementing a number of measures enhancing safety at each part of the journey from aircraft disinfection to initially serving no food onboard. These measures will remain in place for as long as is needed to ensure customers and crew are able to fly safely as the world continues to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We look forward to welcoming our customers back onboard in June.”

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