Tuesday 7 Nov 2017
Network Rail completes track installation that will allow cross-London Thameslink trains to stop once again at London Bridge
The reintroduction of cross-London Thameslink services through London Bridge has moved a step closer with the completion of new track and signalling between London Bridge and Blackfriars.
From May 2018, Thameslink services will resume calling at London Bridge after a hiatus of three years, during which time Network Rail rebuilt the platforms and re-laid track through London Bridge, which is being entirely redeveloped as part of the Thameslink Programme. 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.
With the completion of this track, to the west of London Bridge, the lines are now in their final position through the landmark station, awaiting final signalling commissioning at Christmas and the New Year. Once drivers are trained and familiarised with using the new section of track and its signalling, Thameslink services will once again serve the new station, in the next major industry timetable change of May 2018.
The tracks will be brought into use after ten days of major service changes over Christmas and New Year, during which major re-signalling will take place around London Bridge and the final section of the brand new concourse and final five new platforms will open to passengers. From 23 December until 1 January there will be significant closures affecting Southeastern, Thameslink, Southern and Gatwick Express services. Passengers are advised to plan ahead and check before they travel by visiting www.ThameslinkProgramme.co.uk/2017.
Mark Somers, project director for railway systems, Network Rail, said: “With the completion of the track on the western approaches to London Bridge, the final track layout is now in place for the reintroduction of Thameslink services to Blackfriars and awaiting final signalling commissioning which will take place over the Christmas period.
“The completion of this section of track is a huge milestone for the Thameslink Programme, which from 2018 will result in more frequent, more reliable services to more destinations and a fully rebuilt, entirely accessible London Bridge station fit for the 21st century.”
George McInulty, Service Delivery Director for Govia Thameslink Railway which operates Thameslink, Southern and Gatwick Express, said: “Cross-London Bedford-Brighton Thameslink passengers have not had any trains to London Bridge station since January 2015 when their services were diverted on an alternative route to make space for London Bridge to be rebuilt.
“From May, we’ll be back at the station cutting journey times for thousands of passengers travelling to this part of London. At the same time we will expand the Thameslink network massively, connecting Peterborough and Cambridge into the north-south, cross-London route, transforming the journeys for thousands of people. This is a major part of our programme to modernise the railway through the government-sponsored Thameslink Programme and address the huge growth in passenger numbers across the South East.”
New year, new station – final part of London Bridge concourse opens
As the railway reopens in the New Year, passengers at London Bridge will be greeted by the remaining section of the brand new concourse and newly completed platforms 1-5. Southeastern services will operate on a new timetable and Southeastern trains to and from Cannon Street will once again stop at London Bridge, meaning that tickets will no longer be accepted on TfL alternative routes.
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. After the Christmas and New Year period, the project enters the final countdown to completion; there will 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.
About Network Rail
Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain's railway - the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 38,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.
About the Railway Upgrade Plan
The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:
- longer, faster more frequent trains;
- better, more reliable infrastructure; and
- better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.