West Sussex County Council has called for a return to a dedicated non-stop Gatwick Express service between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria.
The authority was responding to a Department of Transport consultation about the future combined Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern rail franchise, due to commence in September 2013.
Asked which strategic priorities the new franchise should focus on, the County Council highlighted the importance of a strong Gatwick Express rail service for the local economy.
It has asked for a dedicated non-stop Gatwick Express service between the airport and London Victoria to be specified in the Invitation to Tender for the new franchise.
County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, Pieter Montyn, said: “Resurrecting a dedicated non-stop Gatwick Express service which starts at the airport and ends at London Victoria is vital for both the airport and West Sussex.
“To give our economy the best chance to grow, we need better rail links for airport passengers and we need the problems of over-crowded Gatwick Express trains at peak times to be solved.”
The County Council welcomed the significant investment being made in the rail network across the South East – including the ongoing Thameslink Programme expected to be completed by 2018. This will provide up to 24 trains an hour through London.
However, the County Council is seeking greater capacity for services along the Sussex coast and other rail corridors which link to Gatwick.
The authority also requested a detailed dialogue with the rail industry about minimising disruption to passengers while the Thameslink programme is completed, in particular regarding the planned works at London Bridge likely to affect services on the Brighton Main Line between 2015 and 2018.
Other strategic priorities the County Council wish the new franchise to focus on include improvements in managing unplanned disruption, investing in rolling stock, developing innovative promotions and discounts to fight rising fares, and improving facilities and access at stations.