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New cross-London Thameslink services are coming
New cross-London Thameslink services are coming

Press release -

​Wide range of benefits revealed for May 2018 South East timetable

Govia Thameslink Railway has announced the range of benefits that will be delivered in May 2018 as it modernises the biggest rail network in the country, bringing in new trains operating on new improved infrastructure with new working practices.

As planned, from May next year passengers will see a transformation in services, much of it delivered through the Government-sponsored £7bn Thameslink Programme, which will deliver brand new, reliable timetables, extended routes, additional services and new trains.

This programme is the biggest investment since Victorian times. It will expand the Thameslink network and transform north-south travel across London and the south east. It will create more space and comfort and greater access for disabled passengers, with innovative systems telling passengers where to move for more space on each train.

In total, this first phase will immediately give passengers 70% of the programme’s overall capacity benefits, which include:

  • Added capacity into London for 35,000-40,000 more passengers in each three-hour peak across the whole GTR network
  • New cutting-edge Class 700 Thameslink trains across an expanded Thameslink network
  • New north-south cross-London connections for Cambridge and Peterborough (via Gatwick), Littlehampton, Greenwich, Dartford, Medway Towns, East Grinstead and Horsham
  • New links to Gatwick Airport, Eurostar at St Pancras and interchange at Farringdon for Elizabeth line Crossrail services across central London (from December 2019).
  • Return of cross-London Thameslink services at London Bridge – up to 12 trains per hour in the peak, including Bedford to Brighton services.
  • The full implementation of the new Southern timetable bringing passengers greater levels of reliability

Further improvements will then be delivered every six months as part of three additional consecutive timetable changes, adding still more services to the cross-London Thameslink network and, finally, new routes between Cambridge and Maidstone East so that, by December 2019, there will be 24 trains per hour across the centre of London at the busiest times – a tube-like service with trains every 2-3 minutes.

Charles Horton, Chief Executive Officer of GTR, said: “Passengers will see a transformation in services in May next year, when 70% of the overall capacity benefits of this exciting programme will be delivered including the full implementation of the new more reliable Southern timetable, extended routes, additional services and new trains.

“Overall there will be a massive increase in capacity for passengers into London on an expanded Thameslink network that will give passengers at Cambridge, Peterborough, Littlehampton, Medway Towns, East Grinstead and Horsham new services north-south across London.”

Chris Gibb, Chair of the Thameslink Programme Industry Readiness Board, said: “By phasing the introduction of the new timetable in this way, we have front-loaded the benefits for passengers and then spread further changes in such a way that they can be more reliably introduced.

“Passengers will still enjoy almost as many additional trains in May as previously planned and we are doing some things earlier with an early introduction of some off-peak Thameslink trains through to the East Coast Mainline in April and the early use of the London Bridge route to give performance improvements.

“We have also spread out the introduction of the rest of the cross-London services over three further timetable changes instead of just one. This will reliably embed new operating principles in a progressive manner, enabling a smoother introduction with reduced risk of passenger disruption from too much change at any one time.”


Editor’s notes

70% of the capacity uplift will be delivered in May 2018 with additional capacity for 35,000-40,000 passengers into London during the three-hour morning peak. As a comparison, 68,000 people travel into London Bridge station between 8am and 9am.

From May 2018, the expanded Thameslink network will provide the following connections:

  • New direct Thameslink routes through London between:
  1. Cambridge and Brighton
  2. Horsham and Peterborough
  3. Luton and Kent Medway Towns (e.g. Greenwich and Dartford)
  4. Littlehampton and Bedford
  5. East Grinstead and Bedford
  • Faster, seamless journeys: Cambridge to Gatwick Airport 20% faster; Greenwich to Luton Airport 37% faster; 10-15 minutes quicker to Canary Wharf and Paddington via Crossrail (Elizabeth Line) at Farringdon
  • More spacious trains: new Siemens-built Class 700 Thameslink trains, many the size of 21 double decker buses.

From December 2019 additional new connections will be created between Maidstone East and Cambridge.

GTR will shortly be launching its consultation into the new weekend timetable. The results of phase 2 of the consultation and the final weekday timetable for May 2018 will be available in the New Year.

Thameslink Programme:

The Government-sponsored Thameslink Programme combines, new trains, new track, new signalling, expanded infrastructure and station improvements to deliver better connections to more destinations. This investment, the biggest since Victorian times, will transform north-south travel across London and the South east, delivering significant improvement that responds to the growth in passenger demand now and into the future.

How the new Thameslink service will be introduced

May 2018 – 18 trains per hour in the peak between St Pancras and Blackfriars: services from Cambridge to Maidstone East operate between Cambridge and London King’s Cross; Southeastern continues to operate Maidstone East to Blackfriars. This will still double the number of trains on the Catford Loop (between Bickley and Denmark Hill, via Catford) and two trains per hour will continue across central London, from Orpington rather than Sevenoaks as today delivering major benefits for passengers.

December 2018 – 20 trains per hour in the peak between St Pancras and Blackfriars: additional 1 train per hour Cambridge-Brighton; additional 1 train in peak Littlehampton – Bedford (50% increase on existing service)

May 2019 – 22 trains per hour in the peak between St Pancras and Blackfriars: Welwyn Garden City – King’s Cross trains and Blackfriars – Sevenoaks trains run as joined-up Welwyn Garden City – Sevenoaks services

December 2019 – 24 trains per hour in the peak between St Pancras and Blackfriars: Cambridge – King’s Cross trains (2 trains per hour) extended to/from Maidstone East.

ETCS (European Train Control System) and ATO (automatic train operation) will be introduced in 2018 although it will not be needed until May 2019.

Extending the introduction of the timetable over four phases between 2018 and 2019 will enable a smoother introduction and reduce the risk of passenger disruption from too much change at any one time. This will allow Network Rail and the operators to learn and implement lessons from each phase to provide a more resilient service for passengers.



Govia Thameslink Railway
United Kingdom