Gatwick Express 'Fastest Journey Time Into London' Is Misleading

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 81 months ago
Gatwick Express 'Fastest Journey Time Into London' Is Misleading

The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint about Gatwick Express's advertising claims to be "the fastest way between London Gatwick Airport and central London". They say there's no difference on average between them and services operated by First Capital Connect.

When you land at Gatwick, often the first thing your weary eye lands on is a garish advert for the Gatwick Express, plastered over an entire wall, screaming about its "timetable departure of every 15 minutes, and with a journey time of just 30 minutes". We'll admit to not being at our best in airports, but even airside grumpiness doesn't entirely explain why we always trudge past muttering something that, if you got close enough, might sound a bit like 'bollocks'.

Southern Trains, who operate the Gatwick Express, provided the ASA with a lot of figures about average journey times, frequency of trains and something about considering Oxford Circus to be 'central London'. But the ASA did their own calculations and decided that the fullest examination of real time journey information gave both Southern and FCC the same mean and mode travel times.

We did our own non-scientific examination using National Rail's journey planner (below), leaving Victoria and London Bridge at 12.40pm today, and FCC's direct trains were actually a couple of minutes faster. And also a damn sight cheaper. We've often wondered why FCC don't advertise their airport trains more (the same line also goes to Luton, using the Thameslink route); maybe they're working on a new campaign as we speak. Can we suggest a strapline of 'nyer nyer nyer nyer nyer'?

Photo of inside the Gatwick Express by cs_smith from the Londonist Flickr pool

Last Updated 27 July 2011


Well, it's good to see the privatised train companies have got their priorities straight...

Jonathan Morris

Southern also needs to be brought to task regarding the use of tickets marked Southern Only, which can include very cheap tickets far less than the 'Gatwick Express' price, but are often deemed invalid by onboard staff. Southern operates the Gatwick Express service which is no longer a separate TOC (and hasn't been for some time), yet they seem to conveniently forget this and try and get people to buy new tickets - claiming they're a separate company. They are not!


1 advantage is you know you can buy your ticket onboard the Gatwick-not-Express-and-not-Cheap. I'm not positive you can on FCC, and if you can, it's not obvious. Also, much more heinous getting luggage onto an FCC train, and then being the object of much commuter hatred. Leave the multi-bagged and confused tourists on the Express, which seems safer, bigger, nicer (or did until they swapped out carriages), and let the rest of us have the FCC. 


Amusing that your cheapest fare there is a Southern one.