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We’re developing a new rail depot at Chart Leacon, Ashford to provide additional stabling to support the expanded and improved Thameslink service.


The introduction of an expanded Thameslink service will provide better journeys, improved connections, and a fleet of spacious new trains running at Tube-like frequency through central London, transforming rail travel in the capital and beyond.

This expanded network will serve a range of destinations both north and south of London including Peterborough, Cambridge, Bedford, Sevenoaks, Maidstone East and Brighton.

New services and additional stabling needs

As part of the Thameslink Programme two trains per hour are planned to run between Cambridge and Maidstone East (via London Bridge). To accommodate the additional trains to run the new service, additional stabling in the Kent area is required.

To support a more efficient service, it was decided that the new Thameslink trains will be stabled at the existing Hitachi Depot, Ashford. This depot is currently used by Southeastern trains. As a result, trains operated by Southeastern will be move from the Hitachi Depot, meaning that stabling is required in the Ashford area to accommodate the Southeastern trains.

Various options for accommodating the displaced trains have been considered, but the site at Chart Leacon has been identified as the most appropriate site to accommodate this need. It is, however, currently in third party ownership and attempts to acquire by agreement have failed. The proposed Order is therefore necessary to ensure that Network Rail can deliver the required stabling facilities at Chart Leacon as part of realising the full benefits of the Thameslink Programme.

Demand growth for the rail network is predicted to increase in future years. Key growth regions include Cambridge – Stansted Airport, Bedford – Milton Keynes, Surrey – Gatwick Airport and Ashford. The forecast growth in travel demand for the routes covered by the planned Thameslink network would, in the absence of the Thameslink programme, result in more severe on-train crowding and a suppression of demand, with a detrimental impact on economic activity.

The UK Government has therefore invested c. £7bn in the ambitious 10-year Thameslink Programme, part of which includes the delivery of 115 new Class 700 trains. The Thameslink service to be operated by GTR is planned to increase through the addition of 2 trains per hour (tph) between Cambridge and Maidstone East (via London Bridge). These additional services form a key part of the Thameslink programme to increase passenger services.

The new Thameslink Class 700 Maidstone East to Cambridge services will take over existing Southeastern services from Maidstone East to London Blackfriars, resulting in a net increase of 48 mainline vehicles (six 8-car trains). To accommodate the additional trains to run this service increase, and realise the benefits of the major investment by the UK Government, additional stabling in the Kent area is required for six 8-car GTR trains.

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Thameslink Programme