The reintroduction of cross-London Thameslink services through London Bridge has moved a step closer after testing of new, modern Class 700 trains began on 1 January.
History was made as the first passenger train to cross over the new Bermondsey dive-under, which has untangled the tracks approaching London Bridge Station, ran from New Cross Gate and arrived at the newly built platform 5 during the early evening on New Year’s Day.
Additional tests were carried out for platform and signal interface checks, before it then ran to Blackfriars via the newly commissioned Metropolitan and Blackfriars junctions.
Network Rail has remodelled the track layout at the station, with the dive-under at Bermondsey and a new viaduct over Borough Market and Borough High Street. The latter is used by Southeastern trains serving Charing Cross.
Once drivers are trained and familiarised with using the new section of track and its signalling, Thameslink services will once again serve the redeveloped London Bridge Station, via the dedicated Platforms 4 and 5, from May 2018.
This will be the first time that trains on this cross-London route between Brighton and Bedford have called at London Bridge since January 2015.
Network Rail Thameslink Programme Director Simon Blanchflower said: “This has already been a year of ‘firsts’, and this test train was a key moment for Thameslink. From this May trains will run from platform 5 at London Bridge, offering new journeys and destinations from what has become one of the biggest and best stations in the country.”
Since the railway reopened in the New Year, passengers at London Bridge have been greeted by the remaining section of the brand new concourse and newly completed platforms 1-5. Southeastern services are operating on a new timetable and Southeastern trains to and from Cannon Street are once again stopping at London Bridge.
The Thameslink Programme has already delivered longer, 12-car trains between Brighton and Bedford, platform lengthening at a dozen stations between St Pancras and Bedford, track work and upgraded stations at Farringdon and Blackfriars. The redevelopment of London Bridge station, a £1bn project that has been ongoing since 2013, is the cornerstone of the Thameslink Programme. The project has now entered the final countdown to completion; there is still be work to do in the station and on the tracks, but this will be completed during evenings and weekends, rather than working days. Once complete, London Bridge will be a modern, spacious and fully accessible station, fit for the 21st century.