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Delivering Thameslink: Major Project Report

By the summer of 2012, before the Olympic Games, London will have a new landmark. Stretching across the Thames will be the glass canopy of the new Blackfriars station, providing for the first time a national rail station that links the river’s north and south banks. NCE presents its comprehensive guide to the project.

Thameslink: The background

Thameslink is one of the busiest rail routes in the UK and currently carries 90M passengers a year.

The £5.5bn investment plan to increase capacity and frequency of services has been underway since 2007. It is intended to cope with predicted passenger increases of 22% by 2014 and addresses the fact that half of the present users say the trains are sometimes so full they cannot get on.

The programme will provide a main line rail service operating at metro like frequencies of a train every two or three minutes.

The investment will provide relief to some of London’s most overcrowded Tube lines, and new connections east-west all the way to Heathrow via a link with Crossrail at Farringdon.

At London Bridge the investment will prise open a crippling bottleneck that has curtailed growth of the entire southeast network.

The route between Bedford and Brighton was opened in 1988 using the long disused Snow Hill tunnel near Smithfield to link the suburban services on the Midland Main Line with the Brighton Line and a second branch serving the Wimbledon loop.

There are 50 stations on the 225km long route, which provides a north-south link through central London and connects some of the country’s busiest transport hubs including Gatwick and Luton airports, St Pancras International in north London and London Bridge main line stations. There are also interchanges with seven London Underground lines.

The initial eight trains per hour in the peak were soon horribly overcrowded and, since 2009 and delivery of the first stage of the Thameslink investment programme, the frequency of trains between Farringdon and Blackfriars has increased to 15 trains an hour at peak.

By December 2011, 50% longer 12-car trains will be operating on the whole route, with 16 trains an hour in the centre at peak.

Upon completion, up to 24 trains an hour will be taking people north to south, from the Midlands to Sussex and the stops in between, driving economic investment along the route and providing new travel possibilities for people around the UK.

Major project report contents:

- Capital work brings national connections An overview of the Thameslink project and what it will bring to the capital.

- Completing a critical timetable An interview with Jim Crawford from Network Rail

- Farringdon: Central London rail hub

- Blackfriars: Spinning the Thames

- Borough Viaduct and London Bridge: The keys to opening capacity

- Outward bound A look at the work on outer stations

- Improving London Journeys Network Rail is delivering a number of other schemes along with Thameslink

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