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Gatwick Airport (Railway Station)

Volume 504: debated on Thursday 28 January 2010

8. What recent discussions his Department has had on the redevelopment of the railway station at Gatwick airport. (313717)

Enhancements to Gatwick airport station have been discussed with key beneficiaries at three meetings over the past four months. My hon. Friend was at the most recent meeting last week, where Gatwick Airport Ltd and Network Rail agreed to negotiations that could enable work on the full improvement scheme to start by 2013.

I am grateful for that response. Setting aside the worrying 1,500 job losses proposed by Network Rail, Network Rail will carry out a major upgrade of the track and signalling along the Brighton line. If we miss the opportunity to do the much-needed work at Gatwick airport, it will be a travesty. I know that the Department has been working extremely hard with the stakeholders—Gatwick Airport Ltd, the regional development agency and everybody else—to do that work. Can I squeeze some more out of him? Will he do a little more to make sure we deal with the current shortfall?

I congratulate my hon. Friend on the exemplary way in which she has engaged with Network Rail, the regional Minister and key stakeholders at Gatwick airport to press for progress. One might argue that she is a model Back Bencher. The full scheme would bring better connectivity and surface access, removal of a platform bottleneck, more reliable journeys on the Brighton main line and inward investment and retention of businesses around Gatwick. It is opportune to remind partners that there is a limited window of opportunity, and that negotiations need to be concluded by the end of March.