Can Thameslink deliver on new promises for improved rail service?

New Thameslink train at Blackfriars

New Thameslink train at Blackfriars - Credit: Archant

New rail timetables from 2018 promise extra Thameslink services during the morning rush hour and an increase in the number of seats for hard-pressed commuters.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) is consulting on what it calls the ‘biggest timetable shake-up of a generation’ across the Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express routes to facilitate the expansion of the network in 2018.

Among the measures will be 13 extra train services in the morning rush hour from St Albans during a three-hour period and 27 per cent more seats available.

Paul Hutchinson, who is leading the timetable development and consultation for GTR, explained: “We are proposing a complete redesign of the timetable by looking at which journeys are most important to passengers. We are creating more capacity and new cross London routes with connections to Crossrail and more punctual and reliable services. Operationally, each route would be self-contained so that if a problem occurs it does not affect other routes.”

He went on: “We want passengers and stakeholders to help us shape their future train service so we are consulting, we think, earlier than any train operator has before. This is a real opportunity for passengers and stakeholders get involved in an open, honest and transparent conversation about what the train service should be in the future.”

“This is about creating better connections and more capacity. It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to restructure the timetable to give passengers more trains and the much better reliability we all want. Ultimately this will put the Thameslink route at the heart of the UK rail network.”

Passengers can download fact sheets and see what it means for their station, Responses need to be received by December 8.

* St Albans MP Anne Main has hosted a meeting in Parliament with GTR chief executive, Charles Horton, in advance of next month’s public meeting in her constituency.

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Network Rail was also on hand to answer concerns from over a dozen MPs on the level of service and to discuss GTR’s new timetable consultation across the network.

At the meeting, the St Albans MP raised various constituents’ concerns such as the quality of the trains and the delays and cancellations that they had experienced.

She also also took the opportunity to press Network Rail on the timetabling for the railfreight interchange proposals for Radlett Airfield. She said: “It mystifies me how we are so far down the line with the railfreight proposals, yet have seen no hard evidence how this will work.”

On Thursday, October 13, Anne is chairing a public Q&A session with GTR and Network Rail in St Albans council chamber which she has set up in order for the companies to answer these concerns directly to local commuters.

She added: “I think the open dialogue will be good. My constituents pay good money to commute so this gives them a real opportunity to explain their own frustrations with the service, and for GTR and Network Rail to explain how they plan to improve.”