Gatwick Express service 1984-2001

There have been four generations of liveries carried by this stock:
* "Executive" colours branded on the left - "Railair Link" and right "Victoria-Gatwick" in black in the then prevailing sans serif font
* "Executive" colours branded "Intercity" in black on the left in the new Intercity italic font
* revised "Executive" colours with a thinner burgundy line replacing the broad bright red stripe
* and Gatwick Express TOC colours where the lower beige colour was replaced by pearl white (the white stripe also being removed) and new "Gatwick Express" branding carried in the lower centre of the coach.

Of course the real situation was more complicated than outlined above and further details can be found on our class 488 and 489 pages which are linked from the end of this set of pages.

photograph by John Lewis
Here are two photographs of TFOHs taken from almost the same spot at Clapham Junction illustrating the second and final liveries though still awaiting "Gatwick Express" branding in the center of the coach. Above is 8208 in February 1994 and below an unidentified TFOH with GLV 489103 on 13th October 1999.

photograph by Colin Duff

Initially any class 73 could be rostered for Gatwick Express service but in 1988 a dedicated pool - subclass 73/2 - was formed. At one time it was speculated that the diesel engines would be removed from the members of this sub class for economic reasons but operational sense prevailed and they were retained as insurance for the service against "gapping" in complex point formations (where the gap between conductor rails exceeds the length between pick-ups) and also against loss of electrical power on the route. The motor bogie in the GLV provides a small amount of traction power (hence push-and-pull), although there is no traction supply connection between the EDL and the GLV. The GLV provides the electrical supply to the trailer coaches for heating, lighting and auxiliaries.
73207 pausing at Gatwick Airport station before its next working back to Victoria on 12th May 2001.

photograph by Colin Duff

9110 GLV 9110 displaying Gatwick Express pennants on its cab front working an up service at Clapham Junction in April 1994.

photograph by John Lewis

Upon "sectorisation" in May 1985 the service moved from the Southern Region to the Intercity business sector. In October 1993 it became a stand-alone shadow franchise in the run up to privatisation. The Gatwick Express was among the first set of franchises to be sold and is now owned by the National Express Group. It is the only Train Operating Company operating from its inception without any public subsidy.

With the introduction of all of the class 460 EMUs this stock is largely withdrawn and stored at DERA Shoeburyness, although sufficient vehicles to form three formations are being kept by Gatwick Express as reserve trains. 73202, 73210 and 73235 have also been retained. 73202 has had its draw gear converted to be able to rescue disabled class 460 units.

Eight former Gatwick Express coaches are being leased by Porterbrook to Northern Ireland Railways as interim stock pending tendering, construction and arrival of their all-new stock. The remainder of former Gatwick Express stock is being taken up by GB Railways who plan to use it on innovative new services.

73203 is seen passing through East Croydon on 8th June 1999.

photograph by Michael Taylor

When either a Gatwick Express EDL or MLV developed a slight fault, such as a non functioning speedometer, that rendered them unsuitable to be leading the train, to avoid delays incurred when removing the faulty EDL or MLV it was often the practice to add a standby EDL to the front. This formation would then work for the remainder of the day's diagram.
73207 Here 73207 is seen coupled in front of the MLV of a down train passing through Clapham Junction in July 1998. Another EDL is on the rear of the formation.

photograph by John Lewis

Here 73210 pilots 73235 with an 8 car formation tailed by GLV 489108 into Gatwick Airport station on 12th May 2000.

photograph by Colin Duff

Gatwick Express
A thorough account of the Gatwick Express service can be found in the June 1999, August 1999 (by Nick Lawford) and October 1999 (by Tony Francis) editions of Live Rail - the members' magazine of the Southern Electric Group.
9109 The beginning of the end for the "old" Gatwick Express stock as GLV 489109 is across the platform from brand new Class 460 Nº460004 at Gatwick Airport Station on 22nd September 2000.

photograph by Michael Taylor

For more comprehensive information and pictures of this stock please follow these links:
class 73, class 488 and class 489 (GLV).

All photographs are copyright

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This page was last updated 3 December 2002

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