14 MARCH 2016
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New Gatwick Express trains were launched on 10 March in the presence of Claire Perry, rail minister, our railway guru Andrew Sharp reports. The fleet of 27 4-car trains should be in service by summer: they all have wi-fi and an eye-catching red livery, featuring a big GX logo.
The main advantage over the fleet they are replacing is accessibility.
Trains have two big double doors on each side of each car (one-third and two-thirds of the way along): the old class 442s have single doors at each end with much less boarding space, difficult for wheelchair users. That is the improvement to boarding, trailed in the technical press: the actual stepping space between platform and train floor is virtually the same as the old trains.
Inside, seats are brightly upholstered in red. Most are in pairs, although there are some groups of four. There are 466 seats in an 8-car unit (compared with 414 in a 9-car Heathrow Express, so they are a bit more cramped): not all seats align with windows.
There are two luggage stacks in each car, as well as overhead racks. It is understood that alternate trains will shuttle between Victoria and Gatwick: the rest will run non-stop between London and Gatwick then fast to Brighton. www.gatwickexpress.com
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