GOVIA THAMESLINK Railway has begun a second phase of consultation on its proposed 2018 timetable, incorporating an enhanced Thameslink service across London.
From January 2018, Thameslink’s Bedford to Brighton services are due to resume their routing through London Bridge, with the works at the station by then substantially completed. The bulk of the changes are due to take place in May 2018, when the peak Thameslink service will ramp up to 20 trains per hour (tph) through the core section between Blackfriars and St Pancras. The remaining four trains to make up the 24tph peak service will be added in December 2018, once final infrastructure upgrades have been completed. Concurrent to this is a recast of timetables across GTR’s network and on Southeastern, which is also consulting on its own changes to be made following the provision of additional Thameslink services into Kent.
The planned Thameslink service pattern is largely as specified in the previous consultation which took place in autumn 2016 (p18, August 2016 issue), and incorporates additional services to Kent compared to the original plan – this is to relieve capacity constraints at Windmill Bridge Junction, north of East Croydon on the Brighton main line. All Catford line services will be operated by Thameslink, with 2tph from Orpington and 2tph from Sevenoaks, while the third Kent service will be from the Medway Towns via Dartford and Greenwich, running 2tph through to Luton. North of the Thames, Thameslink services will connect to the East Coast main line, with 2tph to Peterborough and 4tph to Cambridge; plans to run services from Brighton through to Cambridge North appear to have been abandoned (although they are still shown on the accompanying official map).
There is a major recast of Southern services planned, and feedback from the first phase of consultation has influenced some proposals. Plans to remove direct peak services between Seaford and London have been shelved, although the plan to reduce peak frequency on the branch from 3tph to 2tph to provide added resilience is retained. A further change based on feedback is to run the Redhill to Tonbridge service as a shuttle rather than with through trains to London, while half of peak hour Gatwick Express trains will gain a Haywards Heath stop in lieu of Burgess Hill as compared to the original proposals.
Plans to cut back the Ashford to Brighton through diesel service to increase capacity on the non-electrified section to Hastings were broadly favoured in the first phase. GTR proposes concentrating the Class 170 DMUs on the Ashford to Hastings section, enabling trains to be lengthened to four carriages. Additional Brighton to Lewes services are planned, including some new semi-fast workings.
Changes on Southern Metro routes are broadly as in the first phase, including provision of a new all-day service between Epsom and London Bridge via Sutton and West Croydon and the combining of Caterham and Tattenham Corner trains at Purley with 10-car formations used (replacing Thameslink services diverted to Kent as described above).
Some changes on Great Northern routes were introduced with the May 2017 timetable, such as providing a second hourly service from King’s Cross to Ely. Great Northern Metro services will switch to new Siemens Class 717 EMUs in 2018, with proposals to increase peak frequencies to Moorgate and double off-peak frequency on the Hertford loop. Due to a lack of capacity at Stevenage pending Network Rail’s completion of a bay platform, plans to institute a bus replacement service between Stevenage and Watton-at-Stone are retained, with GTR saying there are no feasible alternatives at this stage.
SOUTHEASTERN ALSO CONSULTING
Southeastern’s changes are largely to accommodate Thameslink services through to Kent; for example, it is proposed that two of the four Victoria to Orpington services each hour terminate at Bromley South to accommodate additional Thameslink services to Orpington via Catford. Southeastern will also take over from Thameslink peak hour workings between Blackfriars and Beckenham Junction.
The operator proposed restorating in large part the service patterns into Charing Cross and Cannon Street that were provided prior to the start of the Thameslink works. On the North Kent line, the Charing Cross to Gillingham service is replaced by the Thameslink service to Rainham, there are retimings on the Bexleyheath line, while on the Sidcup line there is proposed to be a new Charing Cross to Gravesend service which runs fast from London Bridge to New Eltham, boosting frequency on this route from 4tph to 6tph. Southeastern main line services through the Medway Towns are also substantially retimed, with some elimination of splitting and joining of peak services. High speed services are not affected for the most part, but there are plans to double the length of two peak services from Ashford to St Pancras.
GTR’s consultation ran until 27 July and Southeastern’s finishes on 9 August.