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Cheaper Southern and Thameslink train tickets accepted on Gatwick Express until September

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London-based readers will almost certainly have seen, if they haven’t been personally impacted, the chaos surrounding the new Thameslink rail timetable.  Due to a lack of driver training on the new routes, there are huge numbers of cancellations due to no trains being available.

In an attempt to get people moving by any route possible, all Thameslink and Southern tickets towards Brighton can be used on Gatwick Express services until at least 31st August.

Thameslink and Southern tickets are, of course, cheaper than Gatwick Express tickets.

You probably won’t be able to buy a Thameslink ticket at Victoria, although the ticket office could do it, but you can buy a ‘Southern only’ ticket and then hop on the Gatwick Express.

Gatwick Express fares brief

The official announcement is above (click to enlarge) but here is the key wording:

“With immediate effect until 31st August 2018:

Valid ‘Thameslink only’ routed season, single and return tickets can be used on any Gatwick Express, Southern or Thameslink train service that will enable them to complete their journey.

Valid ‘Southern only’ routed season, single and return tickets can be used on any Gatwick Express, Southern or Thameslink train service that will enable them to complete their journey.

Valid ‘Not Gatwick Express’ routed season, single and return tickets can be used on any Gatwick Express, Southern or Thameslink train service that will enable them to complete their journey.

Normal time restrictions on the use of tickets and Railcards will remain in place.”

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  1. As I understand it, since all these trains are operated by the same company (Govia Thameslink Railway), they have no legal basis to actually restrict tickets by “sub-brand”, however having an argument with poorly-trained staff every day is not worth it and someone needs to be willing to test this in court.

    • Ian P says:

      I believe they changed the contract of carriage a few years ago to fix that issue.

  2. Stu R says:

    Wow, respectfully, today must be a very slow news day …. ?

    • James123 says:

      Why? For anyone travelling to Gatwick,the second busiest airport in the country, from London by train this saves them ~£15 per trip. I’m going this weekend and wouldn’t have otherwise known I could buy a cheaper ticket.

    • I thought this was quite interesting and, importantly, you won’t read it anywhere else.

    • Yes it’s very interesting and relevant to many readers I imagine. I don’t live in London but I’ll be travelling round the Southern region over the next few days and I’m grateful to be made aware that I can enjoy the comfort of the Gatwick Express on a cheaper ticket.

      • Ian P says:

        There’s no additional comfort on GX. In fact, it’ll be less comfortable on a new GX 387 with the “ironing board” seats than the older Southern 377s with actual seat cushions.

        The only advantage to Gatwick Express is you might get there 2-5 minutes sooner and it’s usually less crowded than the Southern services that stop at Clapham Jn and East Croydon.

        • I’m on this route every day and I’d always rather be on the Gatwick Express….seats are hard though.

  3. In an attempt to steer this site from being London-only, should we not mention the thousands of daily cancellations in the North as part of the ’emergency timetable’. Even on the emergency timetable fewer than half of trains are running on time if at all. I fear for those travelling to the airports.

    • Really? This is about the Gatwick Express specifically not the epic national train timetable cock up.

    • As public transport is so dire up here anyway, I am not reliant on it and therefore oblivious to disruptions lol!

    • To be fair we haven’t mentioned the London cancellations until today …..

    • What is it with the boulder of shoulder chips falling from The Regions?


  4. CountryKerry says:

    A consequence of this timetable is that you can buy a London Blackfriars- Gatwick Airport Thameslink only ticket and jump on at Victoria and take the Gatwick Express straight there. (Suppose this is only useful for those who pass Victoria on the way!)

    This is because tickets are also valid on the London Underground via any reasonable route (and it’s reasonable to go Blackfriars – Victoria on the district line, then take the Gatwick Express).

    • Simon says:

      What’s not clear is whether you could now use oyster on the Gatwick Express in the same way that you can currently use it on Southern and Thameslink.

      • Lumma says:

        You can use Oyster/Contactless on the Gatwick express and you’ve been able to since it was accepted on the other trains. You get charged a premium to use it however as the Gatwick express uses two specific platforms at Victoria and the charge is linked to the card readers at those particular gates.

        Unless of course, there’s problems on the route and the train has to use an alternative platform at Victoria, then you’d be charged the Southern rail fare

  5. Mark Horne says:

    Can u use Oyster cards on the Gatwick Express as well?

  6. ankomonkey says:

    Does this work in both directions: London->Gatwick and Gatwick->London?

  7. I have one of the £5 specific train only sothern advance single tickets Gatwick to Brighton, do i still have to take that train if it is running or can i jump on a different one? The brief says “normal time restrictions” apply?

    • That is based on the peak / off-peak restrictions.

      There is virtually a 0% chance your Southern train will actually be running so I wouldn’t worry about it anyway!

    • Yes, you still have to take that train if it’s running. I’ve checked with Southern & GX and had the following reply…

      “Advance tickets still need to be used on their booked train. Ticket acceptance is only for single and season tickets. If a service is cancelled then you could use it for the previous or following train.”

  8. If you were planning on getting the Thameslink to Gatwick and using contactless payment instead of a paper ticket, I presume there is no way to use this reciprocity and be charged what you would have been charged on a Thameslink only journey?

    • Lumma says:

      It’s the gates at Victoria which are programmed to know if you’re getting on the express or not, so you’d still be charged £19.80 each way I believe

      • Suzanne says:

        Gatwick Express website requests that you touch through specific gates in order to pay the reduced fare. To quote the website as updated at 12.19 today (click on ‘Ticket Acceptance arrangements’ banner at top of page): “I use Oyster or Contactless – what should I do? Customers travelling using Oyster or Contactless between Victoria and Gatwick Airport (and vice versa), please make sure that you touch in/out at London Victoria using the 9-12 gates, rather than those on 13/14, to ensure you are charged the correct fare during this time.”

        • presume you have to get a member of staff to let you into the 9-12 platform area after arriving into the 13/14 platforms ?

  9. Presumably that excludes Advance tickets that are for a specific train though…

  10. It’s true that ticket acceptance is in place, however staff have been instructed to sell the ticket that matches the journey the customer intends to make. So they will ask you what time you want to depart, and if you answer with a GX train then they will sell you the more expensive GX ticket.

    If you want to take advantage of this tip you should specifically ask for a “Southern Only” ticket.

    By the same token, they should be able to sell you a TL Only ticket assuming you can convince them that you plan to travel over to Blackfriars or London Bridge to start your journey.

  11. Harpreet says:

    OT was hoping for some advice.

    My partner currently has Platinum amex (hit sign up bonus few months ago) and BA premium card (hit 2-4-1 voucher this week).

    The plan is for her to refer me for Amex gold next month (will be 6 months since I closed my card). The question is what should we do with her current BA card? We were going to downgrade it to get a pro rata refund of the £195 fee. However the other option is to cancel it completely so that we can reapply for it sooner.

    I am eligible for the new BA card sign up bonus in September so after I hit the target with the gold card, I will be getting BA card. Usually we keep my partner’s BA card so that we can refer ourselves again to maximize the referral bonus, but now that there is a loophole by referring from Amex platinum/gold, is there any point keeping it?


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