Passengers are being advised to plan ahead for the biggest timetable shake-up in UK rail history in a month’s time. A new timetable will operate from Sunday 20 May. The changes will affect the whole rail network including Thameslink, Southern, Great Northern, Gatwick Express and Southeastern trains.
The new timetable includes new trains and services to London from Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. They will make space for around 40,000 more peak time passengers, rising to 60,000 by 2019. By next year, 80 more stations will also be added to the Thameslink route with direct trains to central London stations such as Farringdon, City Thameslink and Blackfriars.
Passenger journeys in London and the south east have more than doubled in the last two decades, with the Thameslink network among the UK’s most congested routes. The new timetable follows major upgrades across the Thameslink network, and marks another major step forward in the Government-sponsored £7bn Thameslink Programme.
The Thameslink Programme is improving connections through London, giving passengers better travel options to more destinations. It includes the recently-completed £1bn upgrade of London Bridge station by Network Rail and wider improvements across the network.
Simon Blanchflower, Network Rail’s Thameslink Programme Director, said: “Since 2009 the Thameslink Programme has delivered new railway infrastructure and better stations, has led the way in deploying new digital technology and seen the introduction of a new generation of trains. The significant improvements brought about by the new timetable, with more to follow over the next 18 months, will provide hundreds of thousands of passengers with more reliable, better connected journeys.”
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which manages Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express, has undertaken the UK’s biggest driver recruitment and training campaign ahead of the introduction of the new timetable.
Charles Horton, GTR Chief Executive, said: “A huge number of passengers will notice the benefits in terms of new journeys, better intervals between trains, improved reliability, and more capacity across a wide region. We are redeploying trains and crew and there may be some disruption, so we ask passengers for their understanding during the transition period of several weeks during which time a very small number of trains will not run. Almost a quarter of all rail journeys are taken on the GTR network and because of the necessary scale of the change we strongly urge passengers to check ahead as to how their journeys will be affected.
“Introduction of the new timetables is a major milestone in the delivery of RailPlan 20/20, our programme to modernise rail services, taking advantage of the new infrastructure and trains provided by the Thameslink Programme. These changes followed the biggest and most effective consultation of its kind during which we made hundreds of amendments, some substantial, in response to 28,000 responses.”
Thameslink, Southern, Great Northern and Gatwick Express passengers can find new timetables and information about each route published on the RailPlan20/20 website. Southeastern passengers can find new timetables and a station-by-station guide to the changes published on the Southeastern website.