UK rail minister Claire Perry has launched the new fleet of Bombardier class 387/2 Electrostar trains for Gatwick Express on an inaugural run from London Victoria to Gatwick Airport.
Operated by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), the new £145m, 27-train fleet comprises 108 carriages and will replace the existing 30-year old Class 442 fleet.
Built by Bombardier at its Derby factory, the full fleet of 108 carriages is expected to start operations later this year, providing the non-stop premium service between Gatwick Airport and London, and extended Gatwick Express services to Brighton.
Gatwick Express Passenger Services director Angie Doll said: "This marks a real step change forward in the overall journey experience for Gatwick Express passengers.
"This superb new fleet replaces 30-year old rolling stock which is not designed for today’s airport passenger, and the introduction of our new trains is just the start of some really exciting improvements yet to come."
The new rail carriages will include more first class seats, power sockets, Wi-Fi, overseat lighting and 2×2 seating with increased leg room and underseat storage capacity.
Perry said: "By the summer, all customers taking this premium service to Gatwick will enjoy improvements like on train Wi-Fi, real-time passenger service information, dedicated luggage racks and accessible toilets.
"It is great to see GTR’s investment in the franchise starting to deliver real improvements for passengers."
Compared with the existing fleet, the new trains will feature double sliding doors, which will allow passengers to get on and off the train more easily, and reduce boarding / alighting times, as well as the amount of time the train is kept at stations.
Gatwick Airport CEO Stewart Wingate said: "In just two years, the new Gatwick Express trains will be complimented by a state-of-the-art Thameslink fleet, which together will serve Gatwick with tube-like frequency.
"Shortly after, Gatwick will also complete a brand new train station so we can comfortably meet the expected increase in passenger numbers."
The new fleet of Class 387/2 Electrostar trains is owned by Porterbrook Leasing Company.
Image: The first Bombardier class 387/2 Electrostar train at London Victoria station. Photo: courtesy of Southern Railway.