A direct rail service to the region's only international airport is celebrating its 40th anniversary - with a colourful outfit to match.

For more than 30 million people jetting off on holiday each year, the Gatwick Express is the start of their trip aboard as they sit down on the ruby-coloured seats.

Gatwick Airport train station first opened in June 1958, and was the first airport in the world to have a direct rail connection.

It instantly proved a hit with passengers and on May 14, 1984, a 30-minute non-stop service between Gatwick Airport and London was launched as the Gatwick Express.

The train company was initially set up and run by British Rail until privatisation in 1996, when National Express took over the running of the line.

Futuristic-looking class 460 trains were then put into service at the turn of the century.

The Argus: The Gatwick Express class 460 train at Clapham Junction, with the luggage compartment visible on the sideThe Gatwick Express class 460 train at Clapham Junction, with the luggage compartment visible on the side (Image: Hugh Llewelyn / Wikimedia Commons)

The Gatwick Express franchise merged with the Southern network in 2009 and has since been a part of the Govia Thameslink Railway franchise - which also runs Thameslink.

Gatwick Express boss Sophie Hill said: "My team and I recognise that for some of our customers, getting the Gatwick Express can be the start of a journey where they create lifetime memories on holiday, so the experience of travelling with us holds more of an emotional connection than simply travelling from A to B."

The big day is being celebrated with colourful waistcoats in vibrant red pattern synonymous with the Gatwick Express.

40 of the limited-edition waistcoats have been created and will be handed out for free.

The Argus: Two Gatwick Express staff members showing off the waistcoatsTwo Gatwick Express staff members showing off the waistcoats (Image: GTR)

Sophie added: "We wanted to celebrate our 40th anniversary by offering something unique and collectable for our customers and followers.

"We have lots of Gatwick Express superfans out there, who will be hoping to get their hands on their very own waistcoat so be quick if you want to be in with a chance of winning!"

All you need to do to get your hands on one is head to Gatwick Express's Instagram page to enter the competition.

Senior surface access manager at Gatwick Hannah Godfrey said: "We are delighted Gatwick Express continues to offer such a brilliant service after 40 years and we look forward to continuing to work with the Gatwick Express team to enhance the service for the future.”