The Thameslink Programme is a major £5.5bn, government-funded improvement of London’s cross-city Thameslink routes, aimed at reducing overcrowding. Existing routes will be upgraded and new lines added with proposed new destinations including King’s Lynn, Peterborough, Ashford, Eastbourne, Dartford, Horsham, Guildford, East Grinstead and Littlehampton.
New trains carrying extra carriages will be run jointly by First Capital Connect and Southeastern. Key stations such as Blackfriars, City Thameslink and Farringdon will be upgraded and platforms extended, with most stations on the Thameslink route being able to take up to 50% longer trains. London Bridge will be completely rebuilt.
Frequency of services will also be increased to help ease congestion – there are already double the number of trains passing through Blackfriars and City Thameslink stations.
Track improvement and signal upgrades will also be carried out to increase reliability. In partnership with the programme, Network Rail is improving the infrastructure of the network including switches and overhead lines.
How will this affect East Midlands Trains passengers?
Disruption will be minimal, however First Capital Connect services will use platforms at London St Pancras International station normally used exclusively by East Midlands Trains on most weekends and evenings until May 2011. This will result in an increased number of passengers using this section of the station and its facilities.
Engineering works in connection with the Thameslink Programme will be taking place on the East Midlands Trains route between Bedford and London on some weekends which will sometimes result in extended journey times and/or reduced frequency of service. Specific details of these will be displayed on engineering posters at stations and on the East Midlands Trains website.
How long will it last?
The project started in March 2009 and the final phase of the scheme is expected to begin in December 2016.
What’s been completed so far?
• Platforms have been extended at Luton Airport Parkway station.
• Additional carriages have been introduced – in fact a new fleet of 23 four-carriage air-conditioned Electrostar carriages have been in place since March 2009.
• Also, from March 2009, extended services began running to south-east London and Kent.
• The frequency of trains has been improved at Blackfriars and City Thameslink, and there are now up to 15 trains per hour.
What is still to be done?
• By December 2011 the largest upgrade to the train fleet will take place, with the first 12-carriage fleets introduced. Between 20014 and 2016 additional eight- and 12-carriage trains will be phased in.
• From December 2016 there will be up to 24 trains per hour running through central London.
• The network will have been extended to the following end-of-line destinations: King’s Lynn, Peterborough, Ashford, Eastbourne, Dartford, Horsham, Guildford, East Grinstead and Littlehampton.
• Work to rebuild London Bridge station is due to be completed by December 2016.
For full information about the scheme and the latest updates, please visit www.thameslinkprogramme.co.uk