Early Bird 380 service axed

A loss-making bus service linking Hastings, Bexhill and Battle to Gatwick Airport is set to be axed next week.

The Early Bird 380 service, a joint venture between Metrobus and Gatwick, will cease services on 22 April.

The Early Bird service was introduced at the end of May 2015 to improve late night and early morning public transport links to Gatwick.

St Leonards and Hastings Rail Improvement (SHRIMP), Bexhill Rail Action Group (BRAG) and East Sussex Rail Alliance (ESRA) are ‘disappointed’ by the decision to scrap the twice-nightly service. However, the number of passengers using the service is insufficient to justify running the service.

Martin Woodfine, from SHRIMP, said: “This was a bold initiative which we regret has not been the success that was hoped for. Hindsight is a marvellous tool, but the lack of promotion by the operators, a routing which by-passed population catchment areas, and unclear signage at the airport are all significant contributory factors to the failure of the service.

“In reality, a substantial percentage of the population never saw the bus or knew it operated, despite SHRIMP-placed media articles.”

Gatwick baggage trolley thrown on railway line

The British Transport Police (BTP) is on the hunt for vandals who threw a baggage trolley onto railway tracks near Gatwick Airport last Wednesday, 4 April.

Police believe the luggage trolley was thrown from a footbridge approximately 550 metres from Gatwick Airport station.

The trolley was struck by a train shortly after 4am. Fortunately, no one was hurt, however, there was some damage to the rails which caused disruption to Gatwick Express services and Brighton-bound trains.

Detective Sergeant Bob Stokoe, the investigating officer, is asking anyone with information about the incident to get in touch.

“We are currently carrying out local enquiries, including identifying forensic opportunities and speaking with witnesses. We have also requested CCTV from the station and local area,” he said.

“I cannot over-emphasise enough the dangers associated with this type of crime, it is vital that we find those responsible.”

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact BTP on 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 50 of 04/04/12 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Gatwick and other UK airports could face fines for snow disruptions

From an outsiders point of view it looked like a battle of the BAA and former BAA owned airports when the worst of the winter weather struck at the end of November, beginning of December.

Gatwick suffered the worst of the early snow; the former BAA owned airport struggled to clear the snow and was forced to close for the best part of three days as the snow continued to fall and flights were diverted. Meanwhile, Heathrow airport continued to operate and appeared to be winning the snow battle between the UK’s two busiest airports.

Gatwick’s plans to become the ‘London airport of choice’ were melting, unlike the tonnes of snow outside.

The battle of the snow wasn’t to go all Heathrow’s way though, as days later the airport was forced to close after six inches of snow fell leaving thousands of passengers stranded with little idea of when the airport would reopen and when they would be able to travel.

It has since been revealed in the Telegraph that Heathrow was totally unprepared for snow – the airport, which has two runways, had only 10 snowploughs compared with 14 at Gatwick with its one runway. As the Telegraph reports, the Government’s aviation minister knew about Heathrow’s inadequate winter preparations.

Hopefully, we have seen the last of such chaotic travel as the Government now appears to be looking to fine airports when passengers have their flights disrupted.

The new airport economic regulation bill could fine UK airports, such as Heathrow and Gatwick, for failure to prepare for adverse weather conditions.

Under current legislation, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) can only fine airports for failures such as long queues at security checks, shortage of seating, and poor cleanliness – the current maximum annual fine is just 7% of airport charges, hardly a deterrent!

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Public inquiry into Gatwick North Terminal expansion?

Will we see a public inquiry held in to the proposed expansion of the North Terminal at Gatwick?

Well, it looks like the plan to expand Gatwick’s North Terminal is on ice after the Government stepped in to prevent Crawley Borough Council from granting planning permission while it decides whether or not to hold a public inquiry in to the expansion.

A decision on the application was due in early November, however, the local council brought forward the debate to last Monday and was expected to approve it.

The proposed extension of the North Terminal could see Gatwick handle 20,000 more flights than 2008 and an extra 5 million passengers – around 40 million a year.