Thameslink is a fifty-station line in the British railway system running convert|225|km|abbr=on north to south from Bedford to Brighton through the Snow Hill tunnel in Central London. It is a significant commuter route and serves the airports at London Gatwick and London Luton. In late 1998, more than 28,000 passengers were carried at morning peak times. [cite press release
url =
publisher = Strategic Rail Authority
date = 1999-03-29
accessdate = 2008-06-17
title = Sustained Passenger Growth in London
] Most of its route is over the Brighton Main Line and the lower part of the Midland Main Line.

Upon the privatisation of British Rail the operation of Thameslink services was franchised to a subsidiary of Govia, the train operating company Thameslink. From 1 April 2006, it was taken over by First Capital Connect along with other services previously operated by WAGN. [cite press release
url =
publisher = Central Office of Information News Distribution Service
date = 2005-12-13
accessdate = 2008-06-17
title = Department of Transport announces winner of Thameslink/GN franchise
] The branding of most trains, stations, and signs has been changed to reflect the name of the new company, but City Thameslink and West Hampstead Thameslink stations retain the word "Thameslink" in their names, since the suffix refers to the Thameslink route itself. [King’s Cross Thameslink also kept the Thameslink suffix until its closure on 8 December 2007]


The Snow Hill tunnel was re-opened to passengers after 15 years in 1988 and this allowed timetabled cross-London services to commence on the full Thameslink network in May 1988. [cite web
url =
publisher = Subterranea Britannica
work = Disused Stations News
date = 2007-12-08
accessdate = 2008-06-17
title = Station Name: Snow Hill/Holborn Viaduct Low Level

Prior to this, following an overhead electification project completed in 1982, the northern section was run as the "Midland City Line" service from Bedford along the Midland Main Line to London St Pancras and the City Widened Lines to Moorgate. [ This service was colloquially known as the Bedpan Line - a humorous abbreviation on the terminal stations, derived from the precedent of the Bakerloo Line.In general limited stop trains served St Pancras, whilst all station service served of Moorgate, although there were exceptions to this during peak periods.] From the south, services terminated at Holborn Viaduct.

Running from north to south the central London stations are: St Pancras International for connections to Eurostar and the East Midlands; Farringdon, which links into the London Underground’s Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City lines; City Thameslink [
City Thameslink was called St. Paul's Thameslink when it opened on 29 May 1990. It was renamed in 1991 to avoid confusion with St. Paul's tube station which is about convert|500|m|yd|abbr=on away on the opposite side of St Paul's Cathedral.
] which replaced the demolished Holborn Viaduct; Blackfriars, which links to a number of other rail services and the District and Circle lines on the Underground; and London Bridge, which also links to a number of other lines. King's Cross Thameslink on Pentonville Road closed on 8 December 2007.

In the south there are two branches. One line runs through London Bridge to East Croydon, then to Brighton. A second branch has a more convoluted history.

To begin with, trains went via Bromley to Orpington and Sevenoaks. Some time after that, the non-Brighton trains ran via Elephant & Castle and Streatham to West Croydon. Although this route, still used by other train services, comes close to the "main line", it never relinks with it. After West Croydon the line ran through Carshalton Beeches to Sutton then to Epsom, Leatherhead, Effingham Junction and finally terminating at Guildford. However this route crossed the commuter networks of what were to become several different rail companies and the onset of rail privatisation made the route increasingly difficult to maintain. Around 1994 the second branch was cut back to West Croydon. Then around 1995 a major overhaul occurred when the route was changed completely. Thameslink no longer served the West Croydon route and instead a new route to Sutton was opened up over existing track through Mitcham Junction with the line then continuing on a loop up to Wimbledon and then rejoining itself south of Streatham.

Thameslink Programme (Thameslink 2000)

Since 1991, British Rail (followed by Railtrack, then Network Rail) have been developing proposals to expand and upgrade the Thameslink network in light of the high patronage experienced by operators on the route, particularly today. Initially called Thameslink 2000, the project is known as the Thameslink Programme. [cite web
url =
author = Network Rail
accessdate = 2006-10-18
title = Thameslink Programme
] After a complex and prolonged planning process (which officially began in November 1997) Network Rail was finally given planning permission and legal powers on 18 October 2006 [cite web
url =
author = Network Rail
date = 2006-10-18
accessdate = 2006-10-18
title = The £3.5bn Thameslink Project clears major hurdle
] and funding for the required work was approved on 24 July 2007. [cite journal
last = Coward
first = Andy
title = Cross-river rail to boost Capital
journal = Rail
volume = 572
date=15-28 August 2007
] Construction began on 24 October 2007, with Luton Airport Parkway the first station to be extended. The provisional completion date is 2015. [cite news
url =
title = Work begins on Thameslink project
publisher =
work = BBC News
date = 2007-10-24
accessdate = 2007-10-24
] [cite press release
url =
publisher = Network Rail
date = 2007-10-24
accessdate = 2007-10-24
title = £5.5bn Thameslink Programme gets under way at Luton

Rolling stock

The Thameslink rolling stock is composed of 74 Class 319 trains built by BREL between 1987 and 1990. These are electrically powered dual-voltage four-car units rated to hold either 289, 308 or 319 passengers. They use 25 kV AC overhead power north of Farringdon and 750 V DC third rail to the south. An additional 12 Class 319 trains will be transferred from Southern between December 2007 and December 2008.

New energy-efficient trains will provide an additional 14,500 seats on the Thameslink route and will be delivered from 2012 -2015. [cite news
url =
title = Thameslink gets 14,500 more seats
date = 2008-04-09
publisher =
work = BBC News
accessdate = 2008-06-01
quote = The deal, announced by Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly, will mean the current 720-carriage Thameslink fleet increasing by 380 carriages. A contract for the new carriages is expected to be awarded in summer 2009, with the first train in service by 2012.

Class 317 units built in the early 1980s are still in use on services into Moorgate (25 kV AC) but the section between Moorgate and Farringdon is due for closure as part of the Thameslink Programme.

Footnotes and References

External links

* [ Official Thameslink Programme website] - by Network Rail
* [ Thameslink 2000 Public Inquiry 2005] - official website for the second public inquiry
* Strategic Rail Authority [ Strategic Plan] , 30 January 2003, page 101 and route descriptions page 27.
* [] - information and news on the Thameslink Programme

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