Posted 7th November 2017 | No Comments

London Bridge modernisation reaches final stages

THAMESLINK trains are due to return to London Bridge next May, said Network Rail, now that new track and signalling has been completed on the busy section between there and Blackfriars.

The restoration of services will be part of the phased Thameslink Programme, which should reach a conclusion by the end of next year. This will include 24 trains an hour in each direction between Blackfriars and St Pancras International at peak times.

Bringing Thameslink trains back to London Bridge will also improve journeys between Bedford, Gatwick Airport and Brighton, because since January 2015 these services have been diverted over a slower route south of Blackfriars via Crystal Palace, in order to reach East Croydon.

Network Rail said final commissioning of the new signals will take place over Christmas and the New Year, with driver training following in the early months of 2018 so that public services can be resumed in May. The holiday closures will affect Southeastern, Thameslink, Southern and Gatwick Express services between 23 December and 1 January.

Mark Somers, project director for railway systems, Network Rail, said: “With the completion of the track on the western approaches to London Bridge, the final track layout is now in place for the reintroduction of Thameslink services to Blackfriars and awaiting final signalling commissioning which will take place over Christmas.”

The remaining section of the large new concourse at London Bridge will also open after the Christmas break, along with the newly-modernised Platforms 1 to 5. Southeastern services will have a new timetable and Southeastern trains serving Cannon Street will also once again call at London Bridge,

The first part of the new concourse at London Bridge was opened in August 2016.

Christmas and New Year engineering works on Network Rail infrastructure around the country will involve 32,600 people altogether, Network Rail said.

Chief executive Mark Carne added: “Thousands of passengers are on the cusp of seeing their rail journeys transformed in the months ahead as our massive £50 billion Railway Upgrade Plan reaches its final stages with the introduction of thousands of new services, now,  just around the corner.

"This Christmas will see over 30,000 dedicated and hardworking railway people working round the clock to deliver a bigger and better railway for the millions of people who rely on it every day.

"While most of the network is open for business as usual, some routes are heavily affected and so we strongly advise passengers to plan ahead.”