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£7bn is being invested in transforming the Thameslink programme, alongside the biggest upgrade of the Midland Main Line since it was completed in 1870.
As part of the Government-sponsored Thameslink programme, a brand new timetable will be introduced in May 2018. This represents one of the biggest timetable recasts in recent railway history. It will provide thousands of extra peak-time seats, improved journey times and better connections on GTR (Govia Thameslink) services from Bedford to Farringdon, for Crossrail when it opens, as well as to London Bridge and further south.
Work has also started on the transformation of the Midland Main Line which will deliver the biggest upgrade of this line in almost 150 years, bringing better journeys for customers and representing an investment of over £1billion.
Detailed planning has been taking place over several months across the rail industry to ensure the new Thameslink timetable can be successfully introduced.
East Midlands Trains has today (11 December 2017) announced some changes needed to its timetable from May 2018 due to the increased number of GTR trains needing to operate on the shared network between Bedford and London.
These changes will deliver some improvements for customers in Sheffield, Derby, Nottingham and Leicester, with a number of faster services to and from London. One of the major changes from May 2018 will be the withdrawal of peak-time stops at Bedford and Luton which will naturally create more space on longer distance services from St Pancras.
Jake Kelly, Managing Director of East Midlands Trains, said: “The £7bn Thameslink programme will deliver a step change and huge investment in the UK’s railways and will transform travel from north to south London.
“In order for this to be successfully introduced by the Department for Transport and GTR, we have had to make some changes to our timetable to allow the additional GTR train services to run on the lines we share into London. We’ve carried out an extensive review of our timetable, which takes into account feedback from our customers and we’ve managed to largely protect journey times from the north and East Midlands to London, and will be able to run some faster trains on a number of services.
“Overall, our new timetable represents a largely positive story for customers in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire. Whilst some trains may have slightly longer journey times than today, the extra capacity provided by the new timetable, coupled with some headline journey improvements, will deliver a significant boost to our customers.
“We are proud to have been the UK’s most punctual long distance train operator for over nine years, and that is a record we’d like to keep. We recognise that with GTR operating more services on our lines we will need to be even more focused than ever to make sure our trains run on time. Therefore as well as our investment in extra staff, we’ve also got three additional HST trains coming into our fleet to help provide extra resilience for the new timetable.
“In the longer term, we will continue to work with the Department for Transport and Network Rail to deliver the improvements needed for the Midland Main Line which will provide greater capacity on the network and will enable future timetable improvements and more journey time benefits.”
Rob McIntosh, Managing Director for Network Rail’s London North Eastern and East Midlands route, said: “We are currently carrying out the biggest upgrade of the Midland Main Line since it was first built in 1870 with an investment of over £1billion that will create a bigger, faster, more reliable network which will bring significant, long term benefits the economies and communities our railway serves.”
Full details of the new East Midlands Trains timetable will be available in February 2018.