Thameslink Programme - FAQ

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St Pancras International Farringdon Station Barbican Station Moorgate Station City Thameslink Blackfriars Station London Bridge

Thameslink Programme FAQ

 

General


General

How can I keep up to date with what's happening?

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What is the Thameslink Programme?

Good question. It’s a government-funded £5.5bn programme of work to introduce new and improved stations, new track, new cross-London routes and new longer and more frequent trains with the express purpose of relieving overcrowding. It will transform the Thameslink route.



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Who’s involved?

Network Rail will build new track, new stations, extend platforms and improve signalling. First Capital Connect will bring in a new fleet of trains and run the train service, parts of which will be jointly run with train operator Southeastern.



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What’s in it for me?

A more comfortable ride! That’s thanks to more space on more frequent, longer, brand new trains running to and through London from better stations across an extended rail network. There will be 92 new carriages rolling out during 2009 (the equivalent of 23 four-carriage trains), plus Blackfriars, London Bridge and Farringdon stations will all be upgraded significantly. By 2009, there will be direct connections from North Thameslink stations to Kent. Check out the new destinations that may be on offer by 2015.



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When's it happening?

March 2009:

· Preparatory work completed ready for stations at Farringdon and Blackfriars to be redesigned/redeveloped.

· Moorgate branch closed.

· New timetable in place offering new direct destinations from north Thameslink route stations to Kent and south east London

 

December 2011:

· Farringdon, Blackfriars and most stations on the Thameslink route main line capable of taking 50% longer, 12-carriage trains. These leave central London stations up to 16 times an hour at peak times.

 

End of 2015:

· London Bridge station redeveloped

· New fleet of trains

· Up to 24 trains per hour at peak times through central London

· An expanded network



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Will trains be more frequent?

There’ll be many more trains per hour and more destinations to choose from on trains across the heart of London. The main goal is to reduce overcrowding.



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What impact will this have on my day?

Let’s be honest: while we think you’ll like the end result, the work might well disrupt your journey in the short- term. We’re working closely with Network Rail to keep aggravation to a minimum and doing our level best to keep you updated with what’s going on. We’ll also offer advice on the best way around bottlenecks and station works – a job made much easier if you sign up to our email alerts.

 

On top of this, we’re working with Network Rail to maintain and in some cases improve train services before the main work begins by making changes to the network.

 

Network Rail is also investing £40million in Thameslink route infrastructure to ensure it is reliable enough for us to deliver the service our customers expect and deserve during the delivery of the Programme. This includes:

 

· Investing in spare switch and crossing parts to reduce the time it takes to replace these components when they fail.

 

· Improving overhead lines in the Bedford area to reduce delays resulting from overhead line problems.

 

· Reducing the length of the electric section in the West Hampstead area to give more flexibility of where trains can turn around if there are problems with the overhead lines in the area.

 

· Putting in a turnback at Herne Hill to allow trains to turn around and go back in the direction they have come from. This is very useful in times of disruption and has been installed following a request by FCC.

 

· Investing in additional resources to better manage incidents when disruption occurs in the core section between St Pancras International and Blackfriars.



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How is the £5.5bn being spent?

The £5.5bn will be spent on new track, new stations, longer platforms, better signalling and new trains. A significant portion will be spent on track improvement work, as well as redesigning Farringdon and redeveloping Blackfriars and London Bridge stations.



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Will there be new trains?

Yes! New trains are just around the corner.

 

Coming in 2009

There will be 92 new air-conditioned Class 377 Electrostar carriages arriving during 2009 which will also have a smoother ride, with CCTV and panels showing information about your route. They will run on the main Bedford to Brighton route, fast between St Albans and St Pancras, and in the peaks between Bedford and Ashford, Rochester, Gillingham and Bearsted (operated jointly with Southeastern). However, because late night and early morning services between Bedford / London / Three Bridges / Brighton call at all stations between St Albans and St Pancras (including places like Cricklewood, Radlett, Mill Hill etc) there will be a few trains formed of Class 377 carriages which call at Radlett, Elstree, Mill Hill, Hendon, Cricklewood, West Hampstead and Kentish Town.

 

We're also bringing in more of the existing 319 trains in the short term (see FAQ Do we really have to wait?).

 

All this means that, by the time all the new trains are here, all but six of our rush hour services will be the maximum eight carriages in length.

 

2012-2015

And brand new eight and 12-carriage trains are being built too - these will be next generation trains entering service between 2012 and 2015. They will have the effect of significantly increasing capacity - and they'll be more frequent through central London. In fact, by the end of 2015 there will be trains every 2-3 minutes running into and out of central London on the Thameslink route.



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Will trains be longer?

All but six peak hour services will be made eight carriages long in 2009 (see FAQ Do we really have to wait?). By 2012 most stations will be capable of taking 50% longer 12-carriage trains. A full 12-carriage timetable will be in operation by the end of 2015.



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Where are the new trains for 2012-2015 coming from?

The Department for Transport is working on rolling stock plans for this period and we will update you when they are finalised.



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Do we really have to wait until 2012 and 2015 for some relief to the overcrowding?

It's true that the biggest improvements won't happen until 2012 and then 2015.

 

However, First Capital Connect is painfully aware how much you hate packed trains so is doing its level best to do something about overcrowding right now. There's real progress too.

 

Getting in more trains carriages right now

Until new track and stations allow First Capital Connect to run more and longer trains on the Thameslink route, every effort's being made to run as many carriages as possible on the existing line to ease your journey. Believe it or not this will be done in 2009 when all but six rush hour trains will be the maximum eight carriages in length.

It's tough finding more carriages. The problem is they have to be 'dual voltage' to run on the two different types of Thameslink power supplies, north and south of London. The Class 319 carriages that run on the Thameslink route today obviously have this feature and First Capital Connect's aim has been to acquire every one of them in existence. Southern trains is helping with this.

 

New and air-conditioned

To make up the shortfall, First Capital Connect will also be taking delivery of a further 92 brand new carriages, known as Class 377 Electrostars, in 2009. These air-conditioned trains will also have a smoother ride, with CCTV and panels showing information about your route.

 

They will run on the main Bedford to Brighton route and in the peaks between Bedford and Ashford, Rochester, Gillingham and Bearsted (operated jointly with Southeastern).

 

So what's happening?

First Capital Connect has already sourced 56 more carriages since 2006, helping double the length of trains on many Thameslink services and from December 2008 and through 2009 there will be, progressively, 116 more carriages added to the route, 92 of them the new Class 377 Electrostar. That means that, once all the carriages have been delivered, only six trains will be four carriages long - these are all in the evening and in reality just before or after the high peak. Furthermore, the frequency of trains arriving at Blackfriars and City Thameslink stations will double from 7-8 trains per hour to 15 trains per hour, matching that of St Pancras and Farringdon.

 

Lengthened trains

In December 2006 First Capital Connect leased an extra train from Southern and that has lengthened the 0758 Bedford to Wimbledon and 1650 Wimbledon to St Albans services.

 

In May 2007 First Capital Connect fine-tuned its formations to lengthen four rush hour trains to eight carriages:

 

Morning rush hour

0820 Bedford - Brighton (arrives St Pancras 0920)May 2007
0742 Bedford - Moorgate (arrives St Pancras 0836)May 2007

Evening rush hour

1816 Moorgate - Bedford(departs St Pancras 1824)May 2007
1714 Moorgate - Bedford (departs St Pancras 1722)May 2007

 

In December 2007 we acquired more train carriages from Southern Railway, which let us lengthen the following services to eight-carriage trains:

 

Morning rush hour

0630 Luton - Moorgate (arrives St Pancras 0712)December 2007
0744 St Albans - Wimbledon (arrives St Pancras 0812)December 2007
0802 Luton - Moorgate (arrives St Pancras 0836)December 2007
0822 St Albans - Sutton (arrives St Pancras 0856)December 2007
0840 Bedford - Brighton (arrives St Pancras 0939)December 2007
0923 Wimbledon - Luton (arrives Blackfriars 0958)December 2007

Evening rush hour

1553 Wimbledon - Luton (departs St Pancras 1640)December 2007
1623 Wimbledon - Bedford (departs St Pancras 1710)December 2007
1748 Luton - Sutton (departs St Pancras 1833)December 2007
1744 St Albans - Wimbledon (departs St Pancras 1815)December 2007
1510 Bedford - Brighton (departs St Pancras 1609)May 2008

 

Longer trains in 2009

There are currently (January 09) 25 peak hour trains that are four carriages in length. Once the full complement of 92 Class 377 carriages has been delivered, in 2009, only six peak hour services will be four carriages long. These are:

 

1534 Sevenoaks - Bedford (departs St Pancras 1646)

1738 Kentish Town - Three Bridges (departs Blackfriars 1754)

1842 London Bridge - Brighton

1537 Brighton - Bedford (departs St Pancras 1706)

1711 London Bridge to Brighton

1507 Brighton to Bedford (departs St Pancras 1636)



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Where else will I be able to travel?

From 22 March 2009, there will be direct connections from north Thameslink route stations to Kent and south east London. By the end of 2015 the Great Northern route will be linked in. The final route map has yet to be finalised but check out the new destinations that may be on offer.



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Will you be getting more station staff?

From Monday to Friday, First Capital Connect stations within central London will have more Customer Information staff available on the platforms to help you.



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Will the Thameslink Programme be paid for by big fare increases?

No - there will not be any direct link between the investment in new trains and infrastructure and the fares charged to customers on the route. The investment is being funded by the Department for Transport.



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Will the longer trains mean FCC will lift its policy of restricting passengers with off-peak tickets returning home in the peak (evening period restrictions)?

First Capital Connect has committed to monitor passenger numbers on trains as additional carriages are introduced and review the policy accordingly.



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When will the new interim 2009 timetable be introduced?


Timetables are normally changed only in December and May each year. However, there will be an additional timetable change to the Thameslink route on 22 March 2009. This alteration will see the closure of the Thameslink route branch line from Farringdon to Moorgate via Barbican. At the same time it allows the closure of the terminating 'bay' platforms at Blackfriars station so that Network Rail can start major building work.

 

The new timetable will connect those southbound First Capital Connect services that would have run to Moorgate with those northbound Southeastern services that would have terminated at Blackfriars (see New services between north Thameslink route stations and Kent).

 

Blackfriars Tube station is closing on 2 March 2009. Staggering this closure with those changes at Farringdon, Barbican, Moorgate and Blackfriars railway stations on 22 March 2009 will make it easier for passengers to adjust their travel arrangements.



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Crikey! That tone's a bit flippant, isn't it?

The Thameslink Programme is extremely important and one of the biggest rail projects in the UK for a number of years. It will impact different people in different ways.

 

From the beginning it was recognised that clear communication would be key to the success of the project - passengers have to understand what is happening, and in some cases need to plan ahead and make alternative travel plans.

 

Many options were examined for how to communicate with customers. The winning solution was a unique style aimed at grabbing people's attention. It is direct, totally honest, accessible and straight talking.

 

The full campaign, from the tone of the language to the design of the multicoloured stripes, was tested with a number of customer groups. The feedback was very positive but there was a small percentage of people who did not like the approach. Research will be carried out continuously to monitor people's views and the effectiveness of the campaign.



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Blackfriars

What’s happening at Blackfriars?

 

By the end of 2011 Blackfriars will be capable of taking longer, 12-carriage trains and, and in 2012, the full brand new station will be complete - and there’ll be far more frequent trains; a brand new station spanning the Thames (the first ever) with a South Bank entrance handy for Tate Modern and other places south of the river, and easier access to a much better Tube station. Read 'It's all change at Blackfriars' for more information.

 



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Barbican & Moorgate

Why close the branch line to Barbican and Moorgate Thameslink?

The Moorgate Thameslink route branch line has to close from 22 March 2009 for Network Rail to extend the Farringdon station platforms. The longer platforms will let First Capital Connect use longer 12-carriage trains instead of eight on the mainline as new trains are introduced between 2012 and 2015, which will reduce overcrowding.

 

Unfortunately the platforms can’t be lengthened northwards because the track drops down a gradient. The only option is to extend southwards which will take the platforms across the junction for Moorgate, cutting off the branch line from the mainline for good.

 

The branch also has to close so that a new timetable can be brought in that allows Network Rail to start major engineering works on the terminating ‘bay’ platforms at Blackfriars. This timetable will provide a new cross-London service by joining up the north Thameslink route services which currently go into Moorgate with those Southeastern services from Kent which currently terminate in the Blackfriars ‘bay’ platforms.

 

There is a good interchange with London Underground services to Barbican and Moorgate at Farringdon and we’ll make sure to keep you posted about disruption and other ways to get to your journey’s end. View suggested alternative travel arrangements.

 

First Capital Connect Great Northern route services are unaffected and will continue to call at Moorgate.



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What compensation will you give me when Thameslink route trains stop serving Barbican and Moorgate?

We know Moorgate passengers are concerned about this. It's a Government requirement that passengers using the Tube to get to Barbican or Moorgate from Bedford and stations north of London on the First Capital Connect Thameslink route won't have to pay any more than they usually would had they been able to catch the Thameslink route train. This is guaranteed for 24 months after the Moorgate Thameslink route branch closes. This means tickets will not be sold with validity beyond the 24-month period (March 2011). For example, First Capital Connect will stop selling annual season tickets to Barbican and Moorgate when there is less than 12 months left to go of the 24-month period (March 2011). Instead, First Capital Connect will sell shorter length season tickets up to the 24-month date (March 2011) at the usual discounted rates for such lengths of time.



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Farringdon

What’s happening at Farringdon?

Farringdon station is being transformed: find out more.



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London Bridge

What’s the plan for London Bridge station?

Network Rail is building a completely new, modern station in phases after the Olympics. There will be changes to the way the track is laid out as well to reduce the bottlenecks that plague the area. By the time work is completed in 2015, 50% more passengers will be able to pass through in the peak (that’s 60,000 people an hour). The station won't have to close during this work but current plans suggest First Capital Connect services will not be able to call there after the Olympics, from October 2012 to make space for building works which require a number of platforms to be taken out of use. Instead they would be diverted via Tulse Hill. However, the timetable and construction works both represent work in progress and there is a possibility that FCC services will still be able to call at London Bridge off-peak. We'll keep you updated!



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Wimbledon Loop

Why won’t we get 12 carriage trains on the Wimbledon loop and the stations up to and including Elephant & Castle?

There will be extra room in the rush hour on the Wimbledon loop brought in during 2009 when we will be able to run more longer, eight-carriage trains. However, we can’t run 12-carriage trains, it’s just too expensive and in many cases it is not possible to lengthen the platforms. For example, at Tulse Hill there are complex sections of track at each end of the station and a large bridge which cannot be moved.



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I have read that trains from the Wimbledon Loop are going to terminate at Blackfriars station from December 2015. Is that true?

Nothing has yet been decided. The idea of terminating the Wimbledon Loop trains at Blackfriars is a recommendation on the table from Network Rail in its South London Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS).

 

A final decision on timetable patterns will only follow consultation by the Government with stakeholders such as rail user groups and councils in 2012/13 as part of the wider consultation for the new Thameslink route franchise. It will ensure that when decisions are finally made they will be made with the benefit of the most relevant and contemporary analysis possible.

Why is there a proposal that suggests terminating Wimbledon Loop trains at Blackfriars?

Put simply it is a measure designed to simplify train movements, keeping trains from crossing one another's paths, helping to reduce delay and improve reliability. It would also help to achieve the target of up to 24 trains per hour from Blackfriars through central London to St Pancras and beyond.


Thirty-two trains per peak hour are currently planned to approach Blackfriars from the south when the Thameslink Programme is complete in December 2015. In total, 24 trains per hour will go through to St Pancras and beyond, and eight per hour will terminate in new bay platforms on the western side of the layout at Blackfriars.
The view of the team that compiled the South London Route RUS was that the success of the 24 trains per hour operation will depend upon a very high level of operating performance. To give it the best chance of success, train paths should therefore cross one another as little as possible - because if one train is held up it will affect another.


This suggests the best arrangement is therefore for the 18 trains per hour from London Bridge that approach on the eastern side of the tracks into Blackfriars, and the six that come from the Denmark Hill direction ''up the middle'' should be the 24 trains per hour to go through to St Pancras and beyond, while the eight trains per hour that approach from Herne Hill on the western side (which includes the Wimbledon Loop trains) should be the ones to terminate in the bay platforms.



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East Coast Mainline

Why hasn’t the East Coast mainline been joined to the Thameslink route when a tunnel to link the two was finished in 2005?

The simple reason is that London Bridge station won’t be able to cope with the extra trains from the East Coast mainline until it has been rebuilt and its track upgraded, by the end of 2015. This is when the routes will be linked.



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Cross-London Services

Will I be able to get to central London at weekends?

Yes, you can still get into London easily on First Capital Connect trains but to get across the city you’ll need to use the Tube. See suggested alternative travel arrangements.



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Great Northern route

What about the Cambridge and Peterborough routes?

Making more space on the Cambridge and Peterborough routes

 

This website is all about the Thameslink Programme and the massive changes that £5.5bn worth of work will bring to bear on overcrowding and your choice of destinations. We make no apologies for that. However, we thought you’d like to hear about what First Capital Connect is doing to relieve overcrowding on the Cambridge and Peterborough routes into London, on the Great Northern route.

 

The Cambridge and Peterborough Capacity Scheme recently approved by the Government delivers three things:

 

1) A new timetable.

2) Lengthen platforms and upgrade the power supply.

3) Add more train carriages to the service.

 

The study’s findings were approved by the Department for Transport and we consulted with MPs, rail user groups, local authorities and – of course – everyday members of the public – our passengers.

 

A timetable has been developed increasing the number of seats available by 15% in peak times, meaning 1,779 more seats in the morning peak and an extra 2,490 seats in the evening peak. What has been the biggest challenge is to get hold of the additional trains needed to deliver these improvements. After working closely with the DfT, five additional trains have been secured for the Great Northern route and it is hoped these trains will be ready for service by May 2009. We see this as the first step in adding capacity to the Peterborough and Cambridge routes.



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Kentish Town and Cricklewood

Why aren't Kentish Town and Cricklewood platforms being extended?

Platforms cannot be extended at Kentish Town because of road bridges at each end which cannot be moved. The platforms at Cricklewood are not being extended because there is a proposal to build a new station at Brent Cross as part of a large residential development and this will be able to take 12-carriage trains. Brighton to Bedford trains rarely call at Kentish Town and Cricklewood other than in the late evening or early morning. Instead they are served by the Wimbledon loop trains that will remain a maximum eight carriages in length due to the road bridge at Tulse Hill and complex track layouts near other station platforms. The proposal would be that from 2015 Kentish Town and Cricklewood would be served by the proposed St Albans to Sevenoaks or Orpington service. Therefore there will not be a reduction in service for these two stations.



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