Media report first 12-carriage train out of Bedford

Media report first 12-carriage train out of Bedford

If you tuned into the radio or TV yesterday, the chances are you’ll have caught the news that our first 12-carriage train service was launched without a hitch.

Ready for service: The trains waiting in Bedford sidings on Monday morning

At 06.58, a 240m-long 12-carriage Electrostar left Bedford railway station. On board, a group of journalists who had taken the same train a week earlier filmed and reported the effect of 50% more space and seats and interviewed delighted passengers.

At 08.02 the group alighted at Farringdon, in the new ticket hall that has been built to house the newly-extended platforms. They set up camera and 24 minutes later filmed Rail Minister Theresa Villiers arriving in the cab of the second 12-carriage Electrostar to be greeted by First Capital Connect Managing Director Neal Lawson and Network Rail’s Senior Sponsor of the Thameslink Programme, Simon Blanchflower.

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The media greet Rail Minister Theresa Villiers at Farringdon station

“This is a great day for First Capital Connect passengers,” said Neal Lawson. “Together with other improvements we’ve delivered with longer eight-carriage services to and from Sutton, these first-ever 12-carriage trains give us over 3,200 more seats at our busiest times of the day, which we have targeted on our most crowded services.”

“The Thameslink Programme has been tough for our customers with lots of track closures for engineering work but we can now see improvements coming on line.

“We look forward to fabulous new stations here and at Blackfriars next year and to working closely with the Government to deliver the next phase of the programme, with a new fleet of trains and still more 12-carriage services in years to come.”

The new ticket hall was greeted with delight by many people. Jeremy Blain, of Radlett, said: “This is fantastic, absolutely brilliant, wonderful!”

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FCC also celebrated the occasion by handing out mince pies with the number 12 in pastry and a school choir from St Mary of the Angels primary school in Bayswater sang a specially-adapted version of the 12 Days of Christmas – their fee and all proceeds raised through generous donations have been donated to charity.

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The same day, at 05.55, the astonishing new West Hampstead Thameslink station opened to the public. By the time a new ticket gate enclosure opens in mid January there will be two entrances, greatly relieving congestion. There are lifts to all platforms, a ticket office and a far better interchange with London Underground and London Overground.

We’ll bring you more news after a formal opening tomorrow (Wednesday).

At Blackfriars, meanwhile, the new north bank entrance opened. This remains access only through worksite hoardings until the Tube station opens on 26 February but it makes it much easier for anyone heading west from the station.

Coupled with the new South Bank entrance that opened last week, Blackfriars is fast becoming a better destination station than it has been since work began in March 2009.