Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Thameslink's Next Stop: [Pounds Sterling]3.5bn Revamp; New Stations and Three Times as Many Trains after Network Rail Gets Go-Ahead for Overhaul

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Thameslink's Next Stop: [Pounds Sterling]3.5bn Revamp; New Stations and Three Times as Many Trains after Network Rail Gets Go-Ahead for Overhaul

Article excerpt

Byline: DICK MURRAY

PROPOSALS for a [pounds sterling]3.5 billion rebuild of one of London's most overcrowded mainline rail commuter services came a major step closer today.

Network Rail has been granted planning permission and legal powers to "rebuild" Thameslink which runs between Bedford and Brighton.

It would mean one of the biggestever upgrades to London's creaking and overcrowded network.

Passenger capacity would more than double on one of Europe's busiest railways, with its core route through London Bridge, Blackfriars and Farringdon.

The number of trains would treble to 24 - possibly with 12 carriages instead of the current eight - an hour through central London.

A huge new viaduct at London Bridge and new track junctions at King's Cross would open up Thameslink services to serve large sections of the East Coast Main Line and the commuter heartlands of Kent and Sussex. Passengers would be able to travel from Cambridge to Gatwick Airport without changing trains.

The number of stations served direct by Thameslink trains would go up from 51 to 172. It would also ease overcrowding on north-south Tube services, particularly the Northern and Victoria lines.

Construction would take seven years but NR said passengers would see "real benefits" within three.

Funding has yet to be agreed by the Treasury - but the Government has indicated its support for the " Thameslink Project", with the Department for Transport and the Department for Communities and Local Government granting planning permission and legal powers to NR.

NR stressed that an early decision on money would allow much of the work and "substantial improvements" to be in place for the 2012 Olympics. There would be a "pause" in construction during the Games to avoid disruption.

John Armitt, NR's chief executive, described the ruling by the two ministries as a "landmark decision". …

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