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.”