Transforming north-south travel through London
The Government-sponsored £7bn Thameslink Programme was an ambitious 10-year programme of extensive infrastructure enhancements and the delivery of 115 new trains that has brought faster, more frequent, more reliable, better connected journeys for passengers – transforming north-south travel through London.
The Programme has delivered new infrastructure, better stations, new technology and new trains on an expanded Thameslink network to deliver significant improvements that respond to the growth in passenger demand now and into the future.
Thameslink Programme – an overview
The majority of work is now complete although some minor improvements are still being made at London Bridge station, adding new retail units and improving facilities. Any changes to rail services are largely at weekends and during bank holidays, when the railway is less busy, to minimise disruption. For the latest information please visit the Thameslink Programme website or follow us on Twitter @TLProgramme or @NetworkRailSE.
Since 2018 Thameslink services have offered new journey opportunities on an expanded network and better connections to airports. Passengers from Cambridge and Peterborough now have direct access to Gatwick for the first time. Passengers from Sussex, Surrey and Kent can access the Great Northern and East Coast routes, and international rail services from St Pancras International. These better rail connections will ensure that London and the South East continue to generate growth and opportunities in the decades ahead.
The increased capacity on the central London Thameslink route will enable Thameslink services to act like an alternative Tube line delivering trains every 2-3 minutes through central London between Blackfriars and St Pancras International. Some passengers will save time as they will be able to travel straight through to the City and beyond without needing to change. This will also relieve crowding on the Underground, especially the Northern Line between London Bridge and St Pancras International.
Thameslink Programme has laid the foundations for the biggest transformation in services that this part of the rail network has seen in decades. The new, high frequency timetable takes advantage of the new infrastructure to provide more capacity, new journey options and better connections for passengers across London and the south east.
From May 2018, the first phase of the new timetable delivered 70% of the overall capacity benefits of the programe. The final elements are being introduced more gradually over three further timetable changes to reduce the risk of disruption to passenger services. Phasing in the timetable will help us to deliver the changes more reliably and allow us to review progress at each stage amd make adjustments where necessary.
Overall, passengers from stations across the South East will benefit from more trains, more seats and overall, more capacity into London through a combination of longer trains and more services at the busiest times.
Blackfriars and London Bridge have been completely rebuilt to become better, modern and accessible, fit for the future to handle more trains through central London. Thameslink Programme has also extended platforms on the Midland Mainline to enable longer, 12-car trains to call. Major changes were also made at Farringdon where, with the opening of the Elizabeth line, a new transport hub will connect north, south, east and west.
The rail industry recognises it must adapt to the digital world using traffic management, driver advisory systems and digital train control. These technologies will allow us to run more trains safely and more reliably. Implementation of digital technologies requires investment in both train and infrastructure.
Thameslink Programme is leading the way by harnessing digital technology to release capacity and enable more frequent trains on existing tracks – a world first on the UK mainline railway.
Rail passengers told us that their priorities included more seats and better reliability. New efficient, high capacity trains in 8 and 12 car formations are now operating on the Thameslink network. Designed to move greater numbers of passengers more frequently in air-conditioned comfort, these new, modern, spacious trains include enhanced passenger information and accessibility to transform the passenger experience and provide less crowded, more reliable and more frequent services.
When the final digital upgrades on the Thameslink Programme are complete, the new Class 700 trains will facilitate a train frequency of up to 24 trains per hour at peak times in each direction through the core section between Blackfriars and St Pancras International (triple the number of services prior to the programme starting).
New Class 700 trains have already been introduced into passenger service and now operate on all current Thameslink services.
Learning Legacy initiative
Network Rail is continuing the industry trend for sharing the knowledge and the lessons learned from the construction phases of the award-winning Thameslink Programme. The online Learning Legacy site is helping continue to raise the bar within the infrastructure sectors and act as a further showcase for UK plc.
The aim is to share the lessons learned and best practice over the 10-year Programme with a wider audience to improve processes within the rail industry and to drive forward standards across the infrastructure sector.
The Thameslink Programme team has put together a huge resource of case studies on various elements of the work undertaken to showcase the successes and draw on the learnings from the various projects. Much of the content was written and produced by the project teams themselves and includes written reports, videos, interviews, photos, diagrams and processes.
The website at www.thameslinkprogramme.co.uk provides a clear picture of what went into the Thameslink Programme, from responsible procurement to operational readiness.
- Summer – Blackfriars station reopens, the first station to span the River Thames with exists north and south of the river
- May – London Bridge redevelopment begins
- July – Test trains begin running between St Pancras International and London Bridge stations
- January – Borough Viaduct brought into use
- July – First new Class 700 trains come into service between Brighton and Bedford
- August – London Bridge new concourse partially reopens, platforms 1-3 close for redevelopment
- October – Bermondsey Dive Under complete, first tracks installed
- December – First train runs through Bermondsey Dive Under
- January – Track layout changes on approaches outside London Bridge at Bermondsey
- January – London Bridge station concourse fully reopens and platforms 1-5 are entered into service, making 15 in total
- March – Passengers ride the UK’s first self-drive mainline train, between Peterborough and Horsham
- May – London Bridge station officially reopens. Major timetable change introduces new trains and services, creating space for 40,000 extra peak passengers
- July – London Bridge station won the RIBA London Building of the Year architectural prize and went on to be runner up in the national award.
- December – The Thameslink service was uplifted to 20 trains per hour through the core London stations.