GTR unveils Thameslink improvements but pushes back 24 TPH promise

GTR expects to have introduced 70% of additional services as part of the £7bn Thameslink Programme by May 2018.

Focusing on south east services, the work is expected to increase capacity into London by up to 40,000 passengers in each three-hour peak across the network.

However, the previously promised aim of 24 trains-per-hour has been pushed back from December 2018 to 2019.

The plan was to have trains run like inner-city trams, with new services coming every two to three minutes through London at peak times, but officials have agreed to push plans back a year in order to ensure they are effective.

GTR does expect its Class 700 stock to be spread across the expanded Thameslink network, while there will be new cross-London connections for Cambridge and Peterborough (via Gatwick), Littlehampton, Greenwich, Dartford, Medway Towns, East Grinstead and Horsham.

The new timetable will also see the return of cross-London Thameslink services at London Bridge – up to 12 trains per hour on peak as the station reopens following track and signalling upgrades.

GTR’s chief executive, Charles Horton 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, explained the method behind the new timetables introduction.

“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,” he commented.

“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.”

In addition to timetable changes, GTR has also announced that Southern, Gatwick Express and Thameslink services could be affected by improvement work this year between 23 December and New Year’s Day.

The work means the Redhill area will have no train services between that period, while on Boxing Day there will be no trains to and from Gatwick Airport but only a very limited bus service.

Southern and Thameslink’s London Bridge services will also be busier due to major temporary alterations to Southeastern’s timetable.

Nick Brown, chief operating officer for GTR, explained: “There are significant changes to our train services this festive period, particularly at Redhill and Gatwick Airport.

“This supports our programme to modernise the network with new infrastructure, new trains, new technology and new, faster, seamless journeys. I would urge passengers to check and plan ahead.”

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Huguenot   21/11/2017 at 10:31

Phasing in is obviously sensible, but the fact remains that 24tph is going to be unworkable. The slightest import of late running from south of the Thames will seriously disrupt Midland Main Line and East Coast Main Line services, which are already running at capacity at peak times. The wide variety of origins and destinations south of London is a big mistake and will increase the risk of late running, compared with, say, just two, e.g. Brighton Main Line and Wimbledon Loop.

Andrew Gwilt   21/11/2017 at 13:57

So does that means that 24tph could be pushed back despite 24tph is still ideal for commuters to travel between St. Pancras and London Blackfriars and London Bridge to cross over the River Thames. Instead of interchanging and/or using the Underground (ie Northern Line, Jubilee Line, Piccadilly Line and Waterloo & City Line) that gets much busier during morning and evening rush hour everyday.

Jon   21/11/2017 at 19:49

Your question would be answered if you had read the article.

Iain Kernaghan   21/11/2017 at 20:49

The work at Redhill will bring faster journeys? Rubbish! Redhill to Victoria currently takes 30 minutes, from May it "improves" to 43 minutes. The capacity goes from a four car 377 to... a four car 377. And it's so seamless that anyone travelling towards Tonbridge has to change. "New operating principles" - ah like the one demonstrated this morning, start train on time from Gatwick and cancel the Redhill stop because you started the train on time from Gatwick... The trains running two hour or more trips are designed around the short pootled through London with fast opening wide doors. They're rather unnecessary when the core station dwells are two minutes or more... They seem to think that folks will stay on train to Farringdon and use Crossrail to Canary Wharf, yet the Jubilee from London Bridge is surely quicker... Can the media dig out all of the Thameslink promises and analyse them in relation to what is being delivered - we were repeatedly promised jam tomorrow, we're getting margarine possibly next year.

Andrew Gwilt   21/11/2017 at 23:40

@Jon. Thanks for pointing that out.

Rail Realist   22/11/2017 at 09:21

GTR are right to be cautious with the number of trains in the central core as it will depend on familiarity and reliability of both ETCS level 2 and a Traffic Management System to achieve the 24tph. I believe it will be possible but only when those systems are fully bedded in

Jak Jaye   22/11/2017 at 11:05

GTR THE worst TOC ....ever and theres plenty of candidates to choose from. And as for the rubbish,ugly Class 700s with their rock hard seats open plan carriages best not to go there. Thameslink used to be handy for me to get about,now have to do avoiding moves so as not to be have to use them

Manek Dubash   22/11/2017 at 16:03

Jak Jaye, I quite agree about the seriously uncomfortable Class 700s. Worst train seats I've ever had to sit in - and they seem to be becoming standardised across the network, if Modern Railways' reports are anything to go by. Then since we're talking about timekeeping and GTR, should I mention punctuality? Yet one more example: I went by train from Lewes to Falmouth Town return over the weekend: all the GWR trains were on time. I even made a southbound connection at Gatwick Airport that was impossible according to the timetable - but which worked because the Southern train was two minutes late. This was in the middle of the afternoon, mind, not rush hour. The trains are never on time. What a pathetic excuse for a TOC!

GTR MAN   23/11/2017 at 16:36

What you all seem to forgeries that GTR are trying to implement and run a 21st century railway, on the largest network in the country per capita, with the largest amount of services into London that any other TOC, ON infrastructure that is falling apart through lack of investment. The TOC can only operate when the infrastructure is working!! Granted, there have been issues with strikes etc, but don't always blame the TOC!!

Jerry Alderson   23/11/2017 at 18:48

Cambridge is mentioned in this article but there is deep unhappiness that the trains will start from Cambridge 'Central' rather than Cambridge North, disenfranchising the large business community in the north of Cambridge. It will also mean that trains will be blocking platforms at Cambridge for longer than necessary. Groups such as Railfuture have expressed disappointment that the £50m station will continue to be under-served.

John Grant   24/11/2017 at 14:31

Cambridge North only has one bay platform, which currently has a Liverpool Street train and a stopping train to KGX each hour. The stopping train ought to transfer to Thameslink, but anything else would have to terminate at Ely, where there isn't any space either.

Richard Fowler   12/12/2017 at 15:52

Thameslink took over the Horsham/Littlehampton services this week (10th dec) & the timekeeping has dropped off the scale. I don't think I've seen a single one on time! 24tph will NEVER ever work. There's about 8 different destinations in the south that have massive delays and will undoubtedly mess up the schedule north of the river. Whenever I have to get on a 700 the only things I hear are complaints about the seats, the bus-like nature of the train & groans as a 700 turns up then breaks at a station.

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