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The Thameslink Programme

A Lecture by Nick Gray (Senior Sponsor, Network Rail)

Tuesday 9th October 2018, 55 Broadway

Written by John Doyle

The context for the project is the Thameslink Programme, which after a prolonged gestation in common with other British infrastructure projects is now coming to fruition. Thameslink provides a link between the mainline rail networks to both the South and North of the river Thames. In doing so it increases journey opportunities, creates employment and will boost economic activity. There were three constituent parts to the scheme.

Provision of a new fleet of trains undertaken by Siemens who have built 115 Class 700 fixed formation dual voltage 8 and 12 car trains. Siemens are also responsible for maintenance of the trains at two major depots – Three Bridges on the Brighton mainline and Hornsey, just north of Kings Cross. The new trains have been supported by new or improved stabling facilities at a variety of locations, including Selhurst, Brighton, Horsham, Peterborough, and Cricklewood. Light maintenance, cleaning and retention toilet discharge can be undertaken at  all of these sites.

Other works have included the rebuilding of Blackfriars station to span the Thames and reconstruction of Farringdon station to accommodate not only the enhanced Thameslink service but also Crossrail, now known as the Elizabeth line.

The second phase has been the remapping of the operating franchises, which has combined operations on both sides of the Thames, to form the Govia Thameslink Railway Train Operating Company.

The infrastructure element of the scheme for the London Bridge project was costed at £7 billion,  and has been delivered within 10% of the 2010 budget estimate. Preparatory work, such as the crucial Canal Tunnel linking St Pancras with the East Coast Mainline was constructed as part of the High Speed 1 works and has lain dormant for several years.

The programme of works has taken 10 years, started in 2008 and is currently 95% complete.  The Olympics of 2012 demanded a moratorium on major work and so neatly divided activities in two.

Two key bottlenecks have been addressed. To the East of London Bridge a new dive under has been constructed, which eliminates conflicting routes across the approaches to the station.  To the West an additional two tracks have been provided over the difficult Borough Market site to allow separation of the Charing Cross, Canon Street and Thameslink services.

London Bridge station has been dramatically rebuilt. It dates from 1836 and was last updated in the late 1970’s. It is the fourth busiest station in the country with around 140,000 passengers a day passing through it.

The work was achieved by a three phase approach working across the layout from South to North. It was heavily constrained by the tight footprint of the station, the dense urban environment, several structural features which had to be retained, and not least, by the need for the station to continue working during the disruption.

Work was vastly aided by use of modular components. The finished product has provided a unified station with step free access and generous escalator provision.

The goal of all the work has been to enable a 24-train per hour service through the Thameslink core route which was to have been introduced in December 2018, and is now is undergoing a phased introduction.

After the presentation, Nick answered several questions put by members and was thanked for giving his time to provide an insightful presentation on the London Bridge project.