The Thameslink story so far
The Thameslink route today looks very different than it did in 2008 when the Thameslink Programme began.
Landmark new stations, longer platforms, the first longer trains, signal upgrades and clever solutions to remove some of the worst bottlenecks on the railway have paved the way for phase two of the project. And it is here, at London Bridge, that the real benefits of the Thameslink Programme will be unlocked.
But what has actually changed so far?
Blackfriars was once one of the least favourite stations in London. It has been transformed into the first station to span the Thames, providing passengers with direct access to the Southbank. Great news if you are going to the Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe or any of the businesses and cultural attractions in that area.
Farringdon is now an interchange of the future – unique in linking Thameslink, the London Underground and future Cross rail services. And we’ve also created a direct connection to St Pancras International, making Thameslink the only rail route to serve international departure hubs via Eurostar at St Pancras International, and Gatwick and Luton airports.
But as Jim Crawford, Programme Director at Network Rail, explains, this programme is much more than nice looking stations. “We spent three years performing open heart surgery on the railway through central London to enable it to carry longer trains and more of them.”
It is in the upgrades to the signalling, doubling the number of tracks at key pinch points (like the railway above Borough Market), giving people an alternative to the crowded Northern Line and new trains that we will really make a difference to passengers lives.
As Jim explains: “Making phase one a success required us to think differently. We realized that it could not just be about Network Rail. It required a dedicated team from across the industry. And it is this partnership with the train operating companies – Southern, First Capital Connect and Southeastern, with Transport for London and with our suppliers that will be critical going forward”.
Summary of achievements so far:
Longer platforms across the current Thameslink route, allowing the first longer trains to run.
The Thameslink route between St Pancras and Blackfriars rebuilt with a new capacity of carrying up to 24 trains per hour in each direction (up from 8 per hour in 2008).
Blackfriars station completely rebuilt, spanning the Thames with a new south bank entrance which makes it ideal for Tate Modern, Globe Theater and the South Bank cultural attractions.
Longer weekend trains: eight carriage trains nearly all day between Bedford and Brighton on Saturdays and Sundays.
Later trains back to Brighton from London.
A better weekend service for people on the Wimbledon/Sutton loop (in May 2012 extra evening trains started running on the Wimbledon loop to and from St Albans and a new Sunday service was introduced between Sutton and Blackfriars via Mitcham Junction, twice an hour).
Farringdon station rebuilt, with inbuilt provision for future Cross rail services and a new station at St Pancras providing a direct link between Thameslink and Eurostar services.
Better services at East Croydon. There are now four trains an hour on Sundays as well as Saturdays through London Bridge and right across London all the way to Bedford and back.