THE FIRST Thameslink trains operated in passenger service through the Canal Tunnels, linking the East Coast main line with the Thameslink core at St Pancras, on 26 February 2018.
The so-called ‘preview’ services form part of the phased introduction plan for the enhanced Thameslink service to be introduced in May. The process was instigated by the Thameslink Industry Readiness Board, chaired by Chris Gibb, with the aim being to build up driver and station familiarisation and to test all aspects of the enhanced operation prior to the timetable change on 20 May.
The six services, which operate on Mondays to Fridays, are the 09.46 and 13.17 Peterborough to Horsham and 10.00 and 13.30 return, and the 11.32 Brighton to Cambridge and 14.24 return. A small number of other adjustments to timetables have been made to accommodate the services.
The May 2018 timetable is due to introduce 18 trains per hour (tph) through the core section between St Pancras and Blackfriars at peak times, alongside an overhauled Southern timetable. A further element of pre-testing will see a transition week prior to 20 May, with some services introduced in advance of the change in order to position trains correctly for the new timetable. The service is then due to ramp up over the following 18 months, with the full peak 24tph service through the core introduced in December 2019.