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RUSSIA: RZD International and the group of Vietnamese investors headed by Lung Lo Construction Corporation, signed a partnership agreement on the Project of Construction of the Light Metro Line linking Tan Tạo - Linh Dong - Long Thanh Airport in Ho Chi Minh City and Dong Nai Province.

Under the agreement RZD International will provide expert support and prepare preliminary feasibility study for the project.

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USA: The Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA) has started the renovation and expansion work on the BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport rail station.

The $4.7 million renovation will include an expanded waiting area, new ticketing facilities, a concession area and restrooms. Construction is expected to last 14 months.

“Our customers truly will appreciate the new features in the renovated MARC station at BWI,” said Andrea Farmer, MDOT MTA’s director of MARC Train. “We will provide not only a more aesthetically pleasing station, but a much more functional facility to best meet the needs of our riders.”

During construction, the station will continue to be open for both train and bus service. A temporary station at the north end of the site will continue to provide MARC and Amtrak customers with ticketing services, a waiting area and restrooms.

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Helsinki rail

FINLAND: Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) has approved all seven bidders who submitted the applications to operate commuter rail service, including the airport Ring Rail Line service, for 10 years starting in June 2021.

The approved bidders include two state rail companies - Finland's VR Group Ltd and SJ AB from Sweden. The remaining five bidders are Arriva Sverige AB, MTR Nordic AB, Transdev Sverige AB, First Rail Holdings and The Go-Ahead Group plc.

HSL will now conduct individual negotiations with the bidders with the aim to ensure that all the necessary details in the bidding and contract are taken into account.

"We are very pleased that so many qualified applicants participate in the bidding process. We have good chances to reach the goals of the competition," CEO HSL Suvi Rihtniemi said.

According to Rihtniemi, the goal of the tender is to provide a better functioning commuter rail services with lower costs. New operators will be task to improve the quality and reliability of the rail service as well as better integrate it to the wider public transport system in Helsinki.

The winner of the bidding is due to be announced in April 2020. The successful tenderer will be awarded a 10-year contract for managing and operating the commuter rail services in Helsinki area from June 2021. 

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Lufthansa Express Rail web

GERMANY: Lufthansa is increasing its Express Rail partnership with Deutsche Bahn allowing customers to book a seamless flight and train journey from Frankfurt Airport to selected rail stations in Germany.

The Lufthansa Express Rail service destinations will increase from eight to twenty new city hubs, with new stations gradually being added in Göttingen, Kassel, Erfurt and Aachen in September; Freiburg and Ulm in December; Essen, Bochum, Duisburg, Wuppertal, Oberhausen and Bonn in early summer next year.

Lufthansa Express Rail is already available from Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Mannheim, Karlsruhe,
Stuttgart, Nuremberg and Würzburg.

Lufthansa passengers can book any of those destinations on the airline's website and receive a single ticket covering their flight to or from Frankfurt Airport and a train journey on Deutsche Bahn.

"Easy booking, easy change-over and a direct connection to the world. The Lufthansa Premium understanding is to be able to make each customer an individual offer according to their needs. This cooperation aims precisely at this. In addition, Lufthansa is responding to the growing importance
of networked mobility. Simple - global!," Harry Hohmeister, Member of the Executive Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG and responsible for hub management said.

"We want to offer our customers the simplest and most comfortable door-to-door travel chain possible," emphasizes Berthold Huber, Board Member for Passenger Transport at Deutsche Bahn AG. "The seamless transition from rail to air, which enables our cooperation with Lufthansa, ideally complements our portfolio as a provider of networked mobility."

Up to eight daily connections per departure point provide a convenient link to Lufthansa flights in Frankfurt. Lufthansa Express Rail guests also benefit from a reserved seat on the train, Miles&More loyalty points and a guaranteed connection. In the event of an unexpected delay of train or flight, Lufthansa will change to another connection free of charge. Business class guests travel in the first class of Deutsche Bahn and have access to the DB lounges.

Check-in and seat allocation for the Lufthansa Express Rail Service can also be done online via or mobile via the Lufthansa App. The boarding pass serves as a ticket for the booked Lufthansa Express Rail connection. At the AiRail Terminal in Frankfurt, Lufthansa Express Rail guests can check in their baggage and pick it up again.

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Haramain Rail Project

SAUDI ARABIA: Saudi Minister of Transport Nabil bin Mohammed Al Amoudi has inspected the preparations and readiness of the 450km Haramain High Speed Rail project on 4th September.

Once completed the new railway line will link the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah via Jeddah, King Abdulaziz International Airport, and King Abdullah Economic City.

After inspecting the stations and taking the test ride on the train, the Minister has confirmed the operational readiness of the project.

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UK: The second Airport Access Ideas Forum was co-hosted by the Global AirRail Alliance and the law firm Katten Muchin Rosenman UK LLP on 27 June in London, and focused on how autonomous vehicles technology and Mobility as a Service (MaaS) will impact airport infrastructure, revenues and public transport access.

Airport Access Ideas Forum is an interactive discussion event designed to highlight the changing mobility technology and behaviours and the key challenges airports will be facing in the long-term future to provide seamless and efficient ground transport access for passengers and employees.

The goal of the Airport Access Ideas Forum is to produce an Industry Recommendation Report highlighting the key challenges airports are facing, what can be done today to address them and what opportunities embracing new mobility solutions can bring in the long-term future.

You can download the Industry Recommendation Report here >>>

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Orlando Brightline Station

USA: The Florida Development Finance Corporation approved Brightline's request to act as a conduit for the issuance of $1.75 billion in Private Activity Bonds. These bonds will finance the rail infrastructure in five counties, including Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Brevard and Orange counties.

“We appreciate the FDFC board's continued support in the Private Activity Bond process and the members' recognition of the significant economic impacts Brightline will have on the state,” said Patrick Goddard, Brightline's president and coo. “This is another important step forward for our Phase 2 extension to Orlando, and we look forward to executing this transformative vision of privately funded intercity passenger rail.”

Private Activity Bonds are designed for private infrastructure projects, such as Brightline, that offer a public benefit. They are not backed by the federal, state or local governments and pose no risk to taxpayers. The bonds may only be purchased by qualified, private investors who must perform their own due diligence.

With all material permits in place, Brightline expects to start construction on Phase 2 this year. Brightline's station in Orlando will be located at the Orlando International Airport's new Intermodal Terminal Facility that will be the hub of the future South Terminal complex. The Orlando expansion is slated to open in 2021. Recently, Brightline confirmed it is engaged in an RFP process with the Florida Department of Transportation to extend the system to the Tampa Bay region.

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Melbourne Suburban Rail Loop

AUSTRALIA: The State Government of Victoria announced plans to build the Suburban Rail Loop, connecting every major line in Melbourne and providing a direct rail link to Melbourne Airport for the first time.

Trains will travel up to 130km/h through dedicated tunnels with no level crossings, no interaction with the existing network, and a dedicated fleet of rollingstock.

Modelling undertaken as part of planning for the project shows the trip from Cheltenham to Melbourne Airport will take 45 minutes – less time than it takes to travel in the car. A trip from Box Hill to the airport through the tunnels could take just 25 minutes.

The Suburban Rail Loop is projected to create more than 20,000 jobs during construction – including 2,000 apprentices, trainees and cadets employed through Labor’s Major Projects Skills Guarantee.

Labor Government will invest $300 million in a full business case, design, and pre-construction works, with work on the first section in Melbourne’s south east expected to begin by the end of 2022.

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REM route

CANADA: Canada Infrastructure Bank and CDPQ Infra, a wholly owned subsidiary of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, have reached a business agreement on the investment by Canada Infrastructure Bank in the Réseau express métropolitain project (REM) in Montréal, a 67-km, light rail, high-frequency network linking Montreal Trudeau Airport with the city centre.

The $1.28-billion investment completes the project’s $6.3-billion financing. The agreement is subject to the execution of the final documentation.

“We are pleased to participate in the funding of this important public infrastructure project,” said Pierre Lavallée, President and CEO of Canada Infrastructure Bank. “Public transit is one of our priority areas. Our role is to invest alongside private sector and institutional investors, and other public-sector partners to facilitate the development of strategic projects like the REM.”

“We are very pleased to welcome the Canada Infrastructure Bank as a partner in the REM project. With this $1.28-billion investment, the REM’s financing is now fully completed. The construction of the project is progressing well and will intensify in the fall,” said Macky Tall, President and CEO, CDPQ Infra.

Construction of the REM began in April 2018. The first trains are scheduled to run in the summer of 2021.Given that the Canada Infrastructure Bank’s investment takes the form of a loan, CDPQ Infra’s equity stake in the REM project will be approximately 70% and the Government of Québec’s stake will be approximately 30%.

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Journey PAL

UK: RSSB and the Department for Transport has awarded £600,000 funds to develop a crowdsourced tool Journey PAL, allowing disabled passengers and carers to access all the information they need to understand how accessible a specific station is, as well as an overall rating fellow users have placed on a specific journey. 

By allowing users to input their own reviews and calibrate their user interface, Journey PAL will present relevant, reliable advice for each user group who, until now, have relied upon high-level metrics published by operators. In addition, the rating that users collectively provide will ensure that station operators are held to account over the quality of their service due to the public transparency of the rating process.

The initial trial in the West Midlands area will cover stations served by national and local operators, including West Midlands Railway and London Northwestern Railway, as well as those connecting to flights from Birmingham Airport (via Birmingham International station).

Journey PAL is being developed by four partners: Accessible Travel & Leisure, Transporting Cities, Ethos Farm, and MuMu, with the with the initial concept to be launched winter 2018.

Matt Garner, Co-founder of customer service tech company Ethos Farm said: “We are delighted to have won this prestigious competition and look forward to delivering an innovative and transformational.”

Liam Henderson of passenger experience agency Transporting Cities said: “Passengers of all means rely on quite bland information published by rail companies to make very personal choices; this tool will empower user groups to build their own journey reviews and help improve the experience for their peers.”

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Emirates Trenitalia

ITALY: Emirates and Trenitalia have announced a new codeshare agreement which will enable Emirates customers to discover new destinations across Italy.

With just one ticket, travellers will be able to fly on Emirates and reach 27 cities and towns in Italy using high speed trains that leave from Bologna, Milan, Rome and Venice.

“This codeshare agreement with Trenitalia opens up new possibilities for our customers and complements our current services to Bologna, Milan, Rome and Venice. With Trenitalia, travelling to the Far East from Foggia, or to Padova from Sydney has never been easier," said Hubert Frach, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, West.

"Emirates already flies more than 1.6 million passengers to and from Italy every year. With this codeshare agreement, we’re connecting Italian regions to our global network, significantly boosting the Italian tourism industry,” added Mr Frach.

“The agreement signed by Trenitalia and Emirates is a pivotal step towards the increase of effective and comfortable integration between train and airplane,” said Gianpiero Strisciuglio, Director of Trenitalia Long Haul Passenger Division. “Our customers will now be able to buy one single solution for their train and flight journey, departing and arriving from 27 Italian stations and enjoying the comforts and the best commercial facilities offered by Trenitalia and Emirates,” he added.

Customers can now start booking their codeshare trips via Emirates’ website and travel onwards to these destination and benefit from the convenience of holding a single ticket. First Class and Business Class passengers will automatically be booked in First Class on board Trenitalia’s trains.

Emirates customers will be able to board Trenitalia trains directly without the need to exchange their boarding pass for a separate ticket. As with their flight, they will be assigned a seat number and car number which will be on their e-ticket.

Emirates’ baggage allowance will also apply for train journeys, as well as baggage dimension restrictions. Customers will need to collect their checked bags from the arrival hall at the airport and take them to the train station.

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Ukraine AirRail Link web

UKRAINE: The Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman has confirmed that the high speed rail link connecting Kiev Passenger Railway Station with Boryspil International Airport is being constructed slightly ahead of schedule with budget savings of about UAH 120 million (EUR 3.8 million), compared to a proposed Air Express project.

According to the Prime Minister, the new airport rail link will be launched before 1st of December. Ukrainian Railways are also working on a joint airline-railway ticket offering, Prime Minsiter said.

The new airport rail link will run from Kiev Passenger Railway Station, via Vydubychi station to Terminal D at the airport. The estimated journey time is 35 minutes.

Boryspil International Airport served 10.5 million passengers in 2017. It is expected the market share of passengers travelling to/from the airport by rail to be at least 35%.

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RUSSIA: The Governor of St. Petersburg Georgiy Poltavchenko has announced the tender for the new rail link connecting Pulkovo Airport and the Vitebsk railway station.

Companies can submit their proposals until 10th of October and the winner will be announced on 12th of March 2019.
The project includes the construction of a new two-track electrified railway line from the Shushary Station to Pulkovo Airport and a new railway station directly adjacent to the airport terminal.

"Our goal for modern St. Petersburg is to develop all forms of public transport and ensuring airport accessibility is key, especially when Pulkovo Airport served a record 16.7 million passengers in 2017, a 21.6% growth from previous year. We expect that a tender to plan, build and operate such an interesting transport infrastructure facility will attract a large number of investors," said St. Petersburg Investment Committee Chair Irina Babyuk.

The new rail link will reduce travel time from the airport to St. Petersburg city centre from one hour to 30 minutes, reduce the congestion on roads and improve the comfort and reliability of the airport access journey.

The estimated cost of the project is RUB 18.8 billion with the private investment of at least RUB 8.8 billion.

The duration of the concession agreement will be 30 years.

Tender documents (in Russian) can be downloaded here:

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NIGERIA: President Muhammadu Buhari has inspected the new terminal building under construction at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport and inaugurated the Phase 1 of the Abuja Rail Mass Transit Project on 12th of July.

The first phase of the Abuja light rail system has two lines with connections to the airport and the national rail network. The entire metro system, comprising 290 kilometres and is being built by China Civil Engineering and Construction Corp at a cost of $824 million, partly funded by loans from the Export-Import Bank of China, which is providing 60 percent, according to the Abuja city administration. It will span the entire city and will be developed in six phases.


According to the Managing Director of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria Saleh Dunoma, the work on the new airport terminal should be completed by October.

“We are pressing the contractor China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC) to finish in August so that we can start operations in October and all the stakeholders are working together to ensure this," Dunoma said.

The work includes linking Abuja Metro Rail station to the new terminal, and constructing two new car parking building on both wings of the terminal.



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USA: Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation to advance the process to build a new AirTrain connection to LaGuardia Airport. The new law will allow multiple potential alignments to be considered during an upcoming environmental review of the proposed AirTrain LGA project, planned between the airport and the Long Island Rail Road Station and the 7 subway train at Mets-Willets Point in Flushing, Queens.

The Governor's action marks another critical step toward making a mass-transit link between Midtown Manhattan and LaGuardia a reality, which will help reduce vehicular congestion and delays for passengers traveling to and from the airport. AirTrain LGA seeks to establish a reliable, convenient means of travel, with less-than 30-minute trips between the airport and New York Penn Station or Grand Central Terminal. It will also provide rail access from all of Long Island via the LIRR as well as the MTA's 7 subway line.

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In coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, the steps include the selection of a consultant to prepare the EIS and to oversee the process for the proposed environmental review. The environmental review is slated to begin later this year and be completed by the end of 2019.

Construction is anticipated to start in 2020 and conclude in 2022.

The legislation specifically defines a corridor within which the AirTrain LGA project could be constructed and allows, within this corridor, for alternative alignments to be developed and considered as part of an extensive environmental review process, with required public participation. That corridor was created in consultation with local community members and elected officials. No route can be finalized before the environmental review, which will be led by the FAA, is completed. Under the legislation, the State Department of Transportation would be authorized to acquire parcels of land already owned by the City or the MTA within the established corridor. No private property would be impacted.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates LaGuardia Airport, is working cooperatively with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to build a new station complex at Mets-Willets Point, with easy transfer options between the LIRR or 7-line and the new AirTrain, which will run approximately every four minutes. The total estimated travel time between midtown Manhattan and the airport of less than 30 minutes is comprised of an approximate 16-minute journey on the LIRR between Moynihan/Penn Station or Grand Central and Willets Point, followed by an approximate 6-minute journey from the Willets Point Station to LaGuardia.

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GARA2018 Web Home Banner

EVENTS: Please save the 29th of November in your calendars as we are hosting our annual Global AirRail Conference and Awards dinner in London this year!

This is the time when we are putting together the programme and inviting companies to submit entries for the Awards. So please get in touch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you want to be part of this event, celebrating 10 years of GARA!

Download brochure for more info here>>>

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Three Peaks

About two hundred eager souls gathered on the warm June evening at Crewe railways station to take part in the annual Three Peaks by Rail challenge, organised by the Railway Children charity. Two teams from the Young Rail Professionals organisation were among those people and I was one of them.

Young Rail Professionals was founded in 2009 to promote the railway industry as a great place to work and to inspire and develop the next generation of railway talent. YRP bring together people from all aspects of industry, whether they are involved in engineering, asset management, train operations, strategic planning, maintenance, franchising, regulation, marketing or human relations.

This was my first time taking part in the challenge, which involves climbing three highest peaks in Wales, England and Scotland, often within 24 hours. Our challenge was slightly different though, all of the participants were from the railway industry so our mode of transport between the peaks was, of course, a train.

The goal of the challenge is to raise funds for the Railway Children charity that helps thousands of children across the UK, India and East Africa who run away or are forced to leave homes that have become unbearable through poverty, abuse, violence and neglect.

Each team of four is raising a minimum £3,500 and this year's challenge had total of 42 teams that raised a whooping £188,000 on the day of the challenge. The collection of funds for this challenge continues six weeks after the Peaks and you can still support our Young Rail Professionals teams here

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The challenge started with a jolly train ride to the first Peak in Wales, a 1085 meter high Snowdon. Our first hike began at around 22:00 in pitch darkness and although this was the shortest hike, it was the steepest. Scrambling through the rock with only a head torch to guide you, hundreds of people formed a magical trail of flickering lights trailing all the way to the peak. The first hike was also the shortest, our Young Rail Professionals team finished it in three and a half hours.

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Once all the teams were back at the train at about 5am, we headed off for the second peak, the 978 meter high Scafell Pike in England.

All challenge participants had about 2-3 hours to sleep with a quick breakfast on board of the train as the next hike was about to start. By this point most of the walkers were sharing stories about which body parts ache the most, but we knew there were two more peaks to climb! This walk was quite uneventful right until the end, when after nearly four hours of walking the hope that the peak is just around the corner was shattered with each tired step. A cold windy fog engulfed the roof of Scafell Pike and the rocky terrain left you with an eerie feeling that you have been abandoned on some unfriendly planet and your only choice is to adapt. Teams going down kept saying that the summit is just "ten minutes away". At this point ten minutes felt like another year. But few more stiff hours later, we were back at the train station, waiting for the other teams to return. During this time a local woman that works at the railway station offered me and another girl from our team to use her shower and refresh. This felt like such a luxury! It made us remember why we are doing this challenge. To help the children who lost or never even had access to a soft bed, warm shower and a safe space.

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We were now on the way to the third and the highest peak, the 1345 meter Ben Nevis in Scotland. We had about six hours of sleep on the train before the last challenge.

Our last walk began 5am welcoming the sunrise and after two hours of solid uphill walking we were met with gusty winds and sideways rain. Everyone scrambled to get their waterproofs out and braved on. At this point some of the challenge participants started to give up as the pain and fatigue became too much to bare. Ben Nevis was not making it easy for us. We've entered the rocky and snowy terrain of an alien planet again. Chatter and laughter was long forgotten and the only thought was to just get to the summit and get back on the train. Our Young Rail Professionals team reached the summit soaking wet, stiff cold but happy and proud. After taking few shaky pictures we hastily headed back.

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In total our team has walked 15:50 hours and we are now planning our next challenge!

If you would like to contribute to the amazing work that the Railway Children charity is doing, please support us by contributing to our goal to raise the funds!

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Metro Sepulveda Route web

USA: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority started consultations on Sepulveda Transit Corridor project connecting San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles International Airport.

Metro officials have presented six initial concepts for the future rail line, which were developed as part of an ongoing feasibility study for the project.

Four different types of rail are being studied - heavy rail, light rail, monorail and rubber-tire transit.

According to the Metro the emphasis at this time is to look at how a Sepulveda rail line could connect to other existing or planned transit lines, including the Orange and Expo Lines, the Purple Line Extension of the subway that is currently under construction and the future East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor line between Van Nuys and the San Fernando/Sylmar Metrolink station.

Measures R and M — Metro’s two most recent sales tax measures — provide about $9.8 billion for this project, which will be built in three phases. About $260 million will go toward construction of ExpressLanes on the 405 between the 10 and 101 freeways, with a scheduled opening in 2026. The next $5.7 billion is for the Valley to Westside rail segment scheduled to open in the early 2030s and the remaining $3.8 billion is for the Westside to LAX segment with a 2057 opening.

Metro is working with Elon Musk’s Boring Company to ensure their Loop tunnel project doesn’t interfere with any potential alignments for the Sepulveda project. The Boring Company plans to build a test tunnel beginning near the Expo Line’s Sepulveda Station that will run south to Culver City. 

Metro will continue evaluating these concepts and hopes to conclude the project’s feasibility study in 2019.

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Gatwick airport entrance 01

UK: Chief Executive Stewart Wingate has announced the new five-year Capital Investment Plan (CIP) for Gatwick Airport. The airport will spend £1.11 billion up to 2023, with £266 million planned for 2018/19 alone. 

Gatwick expects to continue growing its long-haul operation and predicts that passenger numbers will increase to nearly 53 million by 2023. 

According to the airport, work on developing the design of the railway station, led by Network Rail, is continuing, although it has taken longer to find an affordable solution and secure the necessary funding than originally envisaged. The CIP includes enabling works for Network Rail’s planned upgrade to the Gatwick station and it is now expected the works to be completed by late 2022. 

Another focus in the investment plan is to further develop the airport car parks to meet the forecast demand. Gatwick Airport will complete the South Terminal long stay car park decking project, providing an additional 1,200 car parking spaces for summer 2018. The airport is also investigating the use of robots for parking vehicles, offering efficient use of existing car park spaces through clos-space parking. According to the CIP, a pilot project at Lyon airport is being monitored for effectiveness and customer response.

London Gatwick takes five year investment plan includes exploring robotic car parking


UK: Chief Executive Stewart Wingate has announced the new five-year Capital Investment Plan (CIP) for Gatwick Airport. The airport will spend £1.11 billion up to 2023, with £266 million planned for 2018/19 alone.


Gatwick expects to continue growing its long-haul operation and predicts that passenger numbers will increase to nearly 53 million by 2023. 


According to the airport, work on developing the design of the railway station, led by Network Rail, is continuing, although it has taken longer to find an affordable solution and secure the necessary funding than originally envisaged. The CIP includes enabling works for Network Rail’s planned upgrade to the Gatwick station and it is now expected the works to be completed by late 2022.


Another focus in the investment plan is to further develop the airport car parks to meet the forecast demand. Gatwick Airport will complete the South Terminal long stay car park decking project, providing an additional 1,200 car parking spaces for summer 2018. The airport is also investigating the use of robots for parking vehicles, offering efficient use of existing car park spaces through clos-space parking. According to the CIP, a pilot project at Lyon airport is being monitored for effectiveness and customer response.