Preston Park campaigners secure early trials for Gatwick Express service

Green MP Caroline Lucas with Preston Park commuters
Green MP Caroline Lucas with Preston Park commuters

Two Gatwick Express services will soon stop at Preston Park in rush-hour, following a campaign by commuters and MP Caroline Lucas.

Govia Thameslink (GTR) has told Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas that Gatwick Express trains will be trialled at Preston Park station in a matter of weeks – after originally announcing they would return in May.

Caroline campaigned alongside the Preston Park Train Campaign for six months before GTR promised in November that slashed Gatwick Express services would return. But the Green MP worked with local commuters to push rail bosses for earlier trials.

In a recent meeting GTR CEO Patrick Verwer said that, subject to the successful completion of unrelated work at Victoria station, two key peak Gatwick Express trains would stop at Preston Park, most likely from February 25. They will be the 7.14am from Preston Park to Victoria, and the 5.44pm from Victoria to Preston Park.

Ms Lucas said: “Almost nine months after people’s lives were turned upside down by last year’s timetable disaster, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel.

“I am hopeful that some passengers will be able to rely on these services in just a few weeks’ time – but there can be no consolation for those who’ve been forced out of jobs, been unable to pick up their children and been stranded miles from home throughout this chaos.

“I’ll be in close contact with the Preston Park Train Campaign and GTR about how these trials are going, and will keep campaigning until passengers receive the services they pay for.”

Liz Mattos of the Preston Park Train Campaign said: “On behalf of the Preston Park Train Campaign I would like to thank Caroline for her continued support and perseverance in ensuring our issues, as a result of last year’s timetable changes, are addressed at the appropriate level. We are really pleased with the progress so far but still have a way to go. We are working with Caroline on a number of other improvements which we hope will result in more good news over the coming months.”

Govia Thameslink Railway chief executive Patrick Verwer said in a statement: “We are pleased to have been able to find a solution for passengers using Preston Park. We always try to engage with communities and politicians to try to find the best outcome for passengers and their journey options whenever possible.”