ON FEBRUARY 19, London Gatwick’s new inter-terminal shuttle came a step nearer to completion following the successful crane lift of the new carriages onto the track. In a delicate engineering operation lasting over two days, six new cars, each weighing 14 tonnes, were lifted 15 ft (4.5m) before being lowered onto the track that runs between North and South Terminals.
The cars will now undergo a period of intensive testing to ensure they are ready to carry passengers in time for the busy summer months. The shuttle service is now expected to enter service in July, a month ahead of schedule.
The £44 million (US$68m) project, which has also involved refurbishing the track and stations, will provide a state-of-the-art service as annual passenger numbers grow to around 40 million over the next few years.
Gatwick’s Project Director, Ray Melee said: “It’s fantastic news that the new cars are now in place. It’s testament to the hard work and skill of the teams involved that the shuttle will be up and running for passengers sooner than planned.
“”The new service is an important part of Gatwick’s near £1 billion investment programme that will modernise the airport and provide a better experience for passengers at every step of their journey.”
The new shuttle service replaces the original system that was installed in 1987. Completing more than two and a half million miles in its 20-year history, equivalent to 100 times around the earth, it was removed from service in September 2009.
While work continues on the shuttle project, a replacement bus service will operate from the upper forecourt of both terminals every three minutes during the day (04:00hrs-18:00hrs) and every six minutes at night.