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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.



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:

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 Express team gives cash boost to Crawley charity

The Gatwick Express team has given a local charity a cash boost following a number of staff fundraising initiatives in recent months.



Maria Cook, Chair of Autism Support Crawley (left) takes delivery of a 'rail ticket cheque' from Gatwick Express managers

Autism Support Crawley, which supports children and adults on the autistic spectrum, has been given a generous donation of £1,931.15 thanks to kind-hearted Gatwick Express staff who have taken part in a series of activities at Gatwick Airport Station, including cake sales, a Christmas jumper competition and bucket appeals.

Station staff were delighted to be able to hand over a cheque to Autism Support Crawley on Tuesday, May 21 to the chairperson of the charity, Maria Cook.

She said:

“We are thrilled to receive such wonderful support from everyone at Gatwick Express.

“Their response to the voluntary work that we do for over 1,200 families across Sussex and Surrey is overwhelming. This will go a long way in helping us to continue to support families and work with lots of different professions to improve understanding, acceptance and inclusion in society,”she added.

Gatwick Express staff were inspired to support the charity after hosting a group from Autism Support Crawley for a ‘Try a Train’ event, during which autistic young people and adults were shown around the station to help them become more familiar and confident when travelling by train, as well as how to buy tickets to support more independent travel.

Gatwick area station manager David Stronell said:

“We’re really proud of all the work we have done to help the charity. The whole station has been involved in the fundraising.

“Since we started supporting the charity, it has sparked a lot of conversations and a lot of staff have talked about having children on the autistic spectrum. It has brought us all together and got people opening up about autism, which in turn has raised awareness for us all,” said David.

Charity trustee, member and service user Charlotte Gover said:

“The amazing donation from Gatwick Express will support so many of our families by enabling us to continue to provide information sessions, conferences, coffee mornings, evening meetings and much needed inclusive family events.”

Staff at Gatwick are now gearing up for their next fundraising events so watch this space!

This month also marks the 35th birthday of Gatwick Express and there have been plenty of activities going on to celebrate the occasion.

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