Members' News

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UK: Heathrow Express, the fastest route between London Paddington and Heathrow Central, has announced its popular £5.50 ticket fares will now be available every day of the week. The new low online fares ranging from £5.50 to £16.50, available for both peak and non-peak times throughout the week. 

The new ticket pricing coincides with the launch of a new multi-lingual website and app. A guaranteed number of discounted tickets will be released for every day of travel for advanced online purchase thanks to the new dynamic pricing structure.

Similar to an airline style yield management system, this increased availability of discounted tickets beyond weekends, extends the value offered by the transport provider that has frozen prices since 2018 and offers a permanent kids travel free initiative.

Previously the cheapest weekday travel available was £12.50 when booked 90 days in advance rising to £16.50 for bookings up to 14 days before travel.

Now, customers booking in advance will see fares available for £5.50, £7.50, £10.00, £12.50, £15.00 or £16.50 depending on availability.

Additional front-end improvements to the website and app allow travellers faster booking, clear ticket and price options, personalised suggestions using customer location and booking history and automated next train times. This is presented in an easy to navigate, responsive application.

In parallel, Heathrow Express are upgrading their API technology which is currently integrated with various partners’ booking systems for fast processing of ticket requests from corporate clients or trade partners.

A new JSON REST API Developer Portal with a sandbox environment is being created which will allow partner developers to co-create and test their own integrated API system ensuring Heathrow Express ticket sales works seamlessly alongside their own platforms before being launched to customers.

The portal is currently being piloted by Distribusion with an expected full release in the new year. Once this happens, the system will be rolled out to third parties in the trade such as TMCs, ground transfer operators and airlines to integrate Heathrow Express tickets into their booking systems.

Each of the recently launched improvements by Heathrow Express are prompted by the commitment to ensure the process from booking a ticket to travelling is simple and stress-free.

Les Freer, Heathrow Express Director, said: “Rolling out our £5.50 one-way fare across the week means thousands more customers can travel for less with Heathrow Express. Speed and convenience is crucial to Heathrow Express customers who have rated us top in the National Rail Passenger Survey three times in a row and our new website and app delivers on these too. Our continued investment in technology will improve the customer experience for both trade partners and end users making the booking process more personalised, quicker and simpler to use.”

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UK: Gatwick has published its new five-year Capital Investment Programme (CIP) which highlights more investment in automation and technology as an enabler of sustainable growth. New initiatives include robotic parking and automated boarding technology, which will speed up boarding and give passengers more choice about how they spend their time.

Gatwick’s total investment since 2009, combined with this new five-year plan rises to £3.21 billion. Gatwick now serves 46 million passengers a year, and the airport is committed to exploring how to continue growing sustainably, providing jobs and boosting the local economy.

The single biggest project to be delivered within the next five years is the Pier 6 western extension which will offer over half a million more North Terminal passengers the opportunity to embark and disembark their aircraft via a jetty-served stand, as well as improved gate waiting areas. The design incorporates automated boarding technology which uses biometrics to process passengers through e-gates straight onto the aircraft.  

Several new projects are identified within this CIP, including:

  • Biometric auto-boarding technology development and next phase of testing.
  • Robotic car parking – a trial will begin this autumn in South Terminal offering passengers all the benefits of valet parking, without the need to surrender their keys, and making more efficient use of existing car park space. Robotic car parking is already in place at VINCI Airports’ Lyon-Saint Exupéry airport – the experience of which will aid the introduction of this new service at Gatwick.
  • Railway station development – Gatwick will invest £37 million to complement the £150 million that the Department for Transport has committed to upgrade the station. Work starts in spring 2020 and is expected to take two years.
  • Infrastructure to support greater use of electric and hybrid vehicles by passengers and staff, in particular on the airfield.

The Capital Investment Programme is a rolling five-year plan which is published annually. This allows the CIP to be refreshed regularly as market conditions and operational needs change. It is published on the Gatwick website and can be found here. Last month, Gatwick also published its final master plan setting out how the airport could develop in the most sustainable way over the next 15 years.

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UK: Gatwick has published its final master plan and a report on its 12-week public consultation, which concluded earlier this year. This consultation showed strong support for airport development with two thirds of respondents saying they support Gatwick ‘making best use of its existing runways’ in line with Government policy.

The final master plan sets out how Gatwick could develop to meet demand in the most sustainable way over the next 15 years, highlighting that the airport is no longer actively pursuing plans for an additional runway.

On commitments to surface access, Gatwick continues improvement works on its railway station. Gatwick’s railway station, on the main line between London and Brighton, is one of the busiest in the country, and has been struggling to cope with rising numbers of trains and passengers. Despite the rail links available from the station, the passenger experience and first impression of onward travel for arriving passengers could be significantly improved. Gatwick is working with Network Rail, the owners of the station, to develop plans to expand and improve the concourse areas. This will add more vertical circulation to the busiest platforms to facilitate platform clearance and provide new enhanced pedestrian routes. The proposed scheme will be jointly funded by the airport, Network Rail and DfT, costing around £120m, and is due for completion by 2022/23.

The full Master Plan can be downloaded here: https://www.gatwickairport.com/masterplan

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STEX summer offer 3 edited

UK: School summer holidays are often an opportunity for travel companies to put prices up - but Stansted Express has bucked the trend and introduced a special summer-only offer cutting fares by up to 60%.

The dedicated express rail services between central London and Stansted Airport, Stansted Express has brought in a new Family Offer Ticket which is available until the end of September.

The great value ticket, introduced in time for the great summer getaway, means that one adult and up to three children can travel from London to Stansted Airport for just £29.90 return – a saving of up to £44.85 on Standard Class Return.

For two adults and up to three children, the price is barely more than £10 per person at £52 return – a saving of up to £52.65 compared to the price of a Standard Class Return.

These special offer fares are available until Monday 30 September for journeys starting from London Liverpool Street, Stratford or Tottenham Hale to Stansted Airport.

The offer is available online only – from www.stanstedexpress.com – and families must travel together on the train.

David Metherell, Head of Commercial Development at Stansted Express said: “We know how costs mount up when going away with your family, especially in the school summer holidays.

“But we’re pleased to be making travel in the summer much cheaper for families – and travelling by train to the airport is so much easier than taking the car. You don’t have to risk the traffic, find a parking space, and then make your way to the terminal.

“Our Stansted Airport rail station is right underneath the airport terminal and just a few minutes’ walk from the entrance.

“We’re offering people the best start to their holidays.”

Stansted Express is the fastest way to travel between London and Stansted Airport, taking just 47 minutes. Trains depart every 15 minutes on weekdays. You can find more details about the offer here: www.stanstedespress.co.uk

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UK: The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced a £150 million scheme to upgrade the railway station at Gatwick Airport, which will reduce train delays caused by platform overcrowding and congestion, while also improving passenger experience by providing easier connections to other destinations.

Planned upgrades will include doubling the size of the station concourse, adding 5 new lifts and 8 escalators to improve passenger flow, and widening 2 platforms to reduce overcrowding.

"With 46 million people now using Gatwick Airport every year and 20 million coming by train, it is vital that we make the station more accessible and customer friendly for those travelling through it. The UK’s second largest airport has direct rail links to more than 120 destinations and is an important public transport hub," Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said.

Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive Officer, Gatwick Airport commented that the redesigned train station will provide a seamless transition between the airport and the station.

"The new station will complement the huge improvements to rail services at the airport, which include new fleets of Gatwick Express and Thameslink trains and services that now leave the airport for London every 3 minutes – as frequently as services on the tube," Stewart Wingate said.

The number of people using Gatwick Airport station each year has grown by 6 million since 2010. Currently the station is not designed for the high volume of daily passengers, often carrying bulky luggage.

The renovation will be managed by Network Rail, in partnership with DfT. Gatwick Airport Ltd and Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership are co-funding the project with £37 million and £10 million respectively.

Paul Harwood, Director of Investment for Network Rail, said:

"The transformational enhancement to Gatwick Airport station will provide passengers with a much smoother and more pleasant experience and also reduce train delays.

Along with the recent improvements on the Brighton Main Line and our record £4.3 billion funding settlement for maintaining, operating and renewing the railway over the next five years, this investment is excellent news for passengers, businesses and the economy."

Patrick Verwer, Chief Executive Officer of Govia Thameslink Railway, said:

"This much-needed scheme will deliver real benefits for passengers thanks to enhanced platforms, new lifts and a larger concourse. At such a busy station these upgraded facilities will significantly contribute to the smooth running of our services for travellers getting to and from the airport."

Jonathan Sharrock, Chief Executive at Coast to Capital said:

"If our economy is to grow, we need a transport network that supports faster, more reliable, and less polluting journeys for business, leisure and freight travel. Gatwick airport is an international destination and its station is a gateway to London and the wider Coast to Capital area.

This plan will greatly improve the interchange for commuters, visitors and business which will support the sustainable growth of the area with Gatwick airport at its heart.

We are delighted to have contributed £10 million and look forward to working with partners to deliver a better experience for passengers."

The improvement works will start in spring 2020 and will take around 2 years to complete. The works will be sequenced to ensure minimum disruption.