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Last Updated: Monday, 2 January 2006, 15:31 GMT
Express rail link 'may be saved'
Gatwick Express
Airlines are keen to keep the Gatwick Express high-speed link
Airlines keen to save the non-stop express rail link between London Victoria and Gatwick Airport have said they believe it could escape the axe.

Rail bosses put forward plans to scrap the Gatwick Express and replace it with stopping trains to ease overcrowding on the London to Brighton line.

The Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (Bar UK) said it now thought there had been a rethink in government.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said ministers are considering the options.

'More hopeful'

Scrapping the 30-minute service between Victoria and the West Sussex airport was proposed by the Strategic Rail Authority, whose responsibilities have now been taken over by the DfT.

Bar UK says it is optimistic following a recent meeting with the DfT's rail director-general Mike Mitchell.

"We got the impression there has been a rethink about the Gatwick Express and we are now a bit more hopeful it might stay in place," said chief executive Mike Carrivick.

"We believe it is a big mistake to take away a direct rail link at a time when air passenger numbers are growing."

A DfT spokesman said: "Options for the Gatwick Express are part of the Brighton mainline route utilisation strategy which is being considered with ministers."

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