The trek to and from London’s airports by rail must surely be one of the most unglamorous journeys in the world. What do you think about express trains? Are they a pleasure or the worst thing about holidays?
I know my holiday is well and truly over when I find myself struggling to find room for my suitcase on the way back from Gatwick, or trundling back from Stansted and wondering how the ‘express’ service justifies its name. So lately, I’ve ditched the train and either drive or take a taxi to the airport.
Thumbs up to airport express trains
But it seems I’m in the minority, as Which? members appear to be rather happy with their experiences on the Gatwick, Heathrow, and Stansted express train services.
We surveyed 4,092 Which? members, and I was surprised to see that more than 80% of those who had used these airport trains were happy with them. And a higher proportion thought each service had got better, rather than worse, over the past two years.
Everything isn’t rosy though, as fewer than 30% thought any of the services were excellent or good value for money. Walk-up adult return ticket prices are £33.20 on the Gatwick Express, £34 on the Heathrow Express, and £31.50 on the Stansted Express.
More expensive than parking in the airport?
Our members’ views on value for money aren’t so surprising when you compare the above train ticket prices against the cost of airport parking. As we discussed last week, you can get a week’s on-site car parking at Gatwick for £46, Heathrow for £66 and Stansted for £44.75.
So, if there are two or more of you travelling for a week, it’s going to be more expensive to take the train than the car (and probably even when you factor in petrol). Plus, when you return home, your car will be waiting to take you back to your front door.
There are moves to make these services more attractive: Heathrow Express is refurbishing its carriages and giving staff new uniforms, and Stansted airport is campaigning for journey times to come down from at least 45 minutes to just half an hour
But in the meantime, I’ll be sticking to the car when I go to the airport, and not just because of the price. And you? What do you think about prices on London’s airport express services?