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Gradual introduction of Thameslink services

Thameslink 
From 20 May, Govia Thameslink Railway will introduce entirely new timetables across their network, including new direct Thameslink services between Luton and Rainham, and Luton and Orpington. 

To introduce this entirely new timetable, many of Thameslink's trains must be relocated from other parts of the network, which can’t be done overnight. The majority of these new Thameslink services will start from 20 May, but a small number will be introduced gradually over the following three weeks.

For full details please go to Govia Thameslink Railway’s Rail Plan 2020 website

A summary of how this affects passengers travelling from our stations can be found below.  

Station advice

Orpington to Blackfriars

  • Only two contra-peak Thameslink services are cancelled on this line

  • Southeastern will cover the majority of Thameslink services that would have otherwise been cancelled using a 4-car Class 465.

  • This replacement train has around half the capacity of the Thameslink service it temporarily replaces, meaning that some services may be more crowded than usual.

Rainham

  • Service levels will be better than today, with the majority of new Thameslink services running as planned

  • All Southeastern services will run, but with only one Thameslink service per hour, rather than two at certain times of the day

Gillingham, Chatham, Rochester

  • There will be a temporary reduction in the number of services running compared to today, while Thameslink rolls-out its new timetable over three weeks.

  • All Southeastern services will run, but with only one Thameslink service per hour, rather than two at certain times of the day

  • This will mean a reduced service to stations between Rainham and Dartford

  • Some services may be busier than usual

Strood

  • There will be a temporary reduction in the number of services running compared to today, while Thameslink roll-out their new timetable over three weeks.

  • All Southeastern services will run, but with only one Thameslink service per hour, rather than 2 at certain times of the day

  • Off-peak, this means a total of three trains per hour rather than four at certain times of the day

  • Some services may be busier than usual

  • Passengers connecting from Medway Valley line services may find there is a longer wait for a connecting train

  • A bus replacement service will operate between Strood and Higham

  • Passengers from Higham and Strood will be able to use non-High speed tickets on Southeastern High speed services from Sunday 20 May until Sunday 10 June, inclusive. These ticket acceptance arrangements will be in place at all times of the day. 

  • From St Pancras, customers travelling from Higham or Strood will be able to travel south on Thameslink services at no additional cost up to and including London Bridge, in order to complete their journey or to connect with central London stations (e.g. Charing Cross etc). 

Higham

  • There will be a temporary reduction in the number of services running compared to today, while Thameslink roll-out their new timetable over three weeks.

  • From 20 May, Thameslink services will replace Southeastern’s off-peak services from Higham

  • All Southeastern’s peak-time services will run as planned, but with only one Thameslink service per hour, rather than two at certain times of the day

  • A bus replacement service will run between Higham and Strood

  • Passengers from Higham and Strood will be able to use non-High speed tickets on Southeastern High speed services from Sunday 20 May until Sunday 10 June, inclusive. These ticket acceptance arrangements will be in place at all times of the day.

  • From St Pancras, customers travelling from Higham or Strood will be able to travel south on Thameslink services at no additional cost up to and including London Bridge, in order to complete their journey or to connect with central London stations (e.g. Charing Cross etc). 

  • Some services may be busier than usual

Gravesend, Greenhithe (for Bluewater)

  • There will be a temporary reduction in the number of peak services running compared to today, while Thameslink roll-out their new timetable over three weeks.

  • All Southeastern services will run, but with only one Thameslink service per hour, rather than two at certain times of the day

  • Some services may be busier than usual

  • Off-peak, Southeastern are introducing an additional, new semi-fast service to Charing Cross from these stations

  • Some services may be busier than usual

Northfleet, Swanscombe, Stone Crossing

  • There will be an increased number of services compared to today

  • The delayed introduction of some new Thameslink services means that there will only be one additional train per hour, rather than two, for three weeks at certain times of the day

  • There may be some irregular gaps between services in the timetable

  • Some services may be busier than usual

Dartford

  • There will be a temporary reduction in the number of services running compared to today, while Thameslink roll-out their new timetable over three weeks.

  • All Southeastern services will run, but with only one Thameslink service per hour, rather than two at certain times of the day

  • Some services may be busier than usual

Slade Green, Abbey Wood, Plumstead, Woolwich Arsenal, Charlton

  • There will be a temporary reduction in the number of services running compared to today, while Thameslink roll-out their new timetable over three weeks.

  • There will still be frequent trains from these stations, with a maximum gap between services of 12 minutes

  • Some services may be busier than usual

Erith, Belvedere, Woolwich Dockyard

  • No change to planned timetable, but some services may be busier than usual

Westcombe Park, Maze Hill, Greenwich, Deptford

  • Increased number of services compared to today, but with a delay to the introduction of some new Thameslink services

  • This will mean some irregular gaps in the timetable, at which times trains and platforms may be busier than usual

Frequently asked questions

What is changing?

From 20 May 2018, Govia Thameslink Railway are introducing entirely new timetables on Thameslink, Southern, Gatwick Express and Great Northern. This is part of RailPlan 20/20, a programme to modernise services on some of the busiest sections of the country’s rail network. 

This includes a new direct Thameslink route between Luton and Rainham (via Greenwich) and between Luton and Orpington, doubling frequencies at stations on the Catford Loop line. 

These services will use a fleet of 115 new trains brought in to increase capacity to respond to the phenomenal growth in passenger numbers.

What is the new Thameslink service on the north Kent route to Rainham/Medway towns?

Two trains per hour will operate direct between Luton and Rainham in the following calling pattern is Luton, Luton Airport Parkway, Harpenden, St Albans City, Radlett, Elstree & Borehamwood, Mill Hill Broadway, West Hampstead Thameslink, London St Pancras International, Farringdon, City Thameslink, London Blackfriars, London Bridge, Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill, Westcombe Park, Charlton, Woolwich Arsenal, Plumstead, Abbey Wood, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe, Swanscombe, Northfleet, Gravesend, Higham, Strood, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham and Rainham. 

This is a new service providing new direct services through the core of London to London Bridge, Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon, St Pancras International and to Luton Airport, as well as improved connections. It replaces the existing Southeastern Gillingham to Charing Cross service. 

What is the new Thameslink service on the Orpington line via the Catford loop?

The current two trains per hour to Sevenoaks will be supplemented with two trains per hour to Orpington, doubling the frequency on the Catford loop line to four trains per hour. 

Trains will call at West Hampstead, Kentish Town (off peak), London St Pancras International, Farringdon, City Thameslink, London Blackfriars, Elephant & Castle, Denmark Hill, Peckham Rye, Nunhead, Crofton Park, Catford, Bellingham, Beckenham Hill, Ravensbourne, Shortlands, Bromley South, Bickley, Petts Wood and Orpington.

During Monday to Friday peak periods trains will also serve Luton, Luton Airport Parkway, Harpenden, St Albans City, Radlett, Elstree & Borehamwood , Mill Hill Broadway and West Hampstead Thameslink.

Is there a delay to the new Thameslink timetables on the Rainham and Orpington lines?

No, Thameslink’s new timetables will be introduced onto these routes on 20 May. 

To form this entirely new timetable structure from 20 May, many train carriages must be relocated across the network; at the same time Govia Thameslink Railway need to continue to run current services. 

While this major logistical change takes place, there will be short-term amendments to some services in the first few weeks of the new timetable. 

We have worked closely with Govia Thameslink Railway to keep changes to an absolute minimum, aimed at quieter times of the day, and will let passengers know in advance. 

Why can’t Thameslink move the trains sooner?

There are new Thameslink trains stored off the network ready to form new services; they must work around current timetables and engineering works to get to their eventual ‘home depot’. This is not feasible in one weekend or overnight. 

There are many new services with new start or finish locations meaning existing trains on the network need to be relocated. 

There are also many changes to the configuration of Govia Thameslink Railway’s existing trains, especially on the Southern network, as they move towards running longer, fixed-formation trains. These need to be mapped together according to maintenance cycles so that the sections of the newly formed trains are on the same maintenance exam schedule as much as possible. This means more train movements around the network. 

With such a major logistical change, a transition period is required as Govia Thameslink Railway moves from their existing timetable to the new structure.

How long will it take?

Govia Thameslink Railway expects this to take around three weeks to 8 June and with each week more trains will be in their correct locations and therefore will run in the new timings. 

 

When will the online journey planners be correct?

Govia Thameslink Railway will update online journey planners on Friday 4 May, for services from 20 May onwards, however you should recheck your journey before you travel. 

 

What is being done to reduce the impact of these changes?

Wherever possible, the gradual introduction is limited to services that previously didn’t run and where other services will still be available. 

In the small number of cases where existing services are affected, Govia Thameslink Railway have worked closely with us to limit the impact, by only removing quieter services and with Southeastern providing alternative trains where possible on the Orpington to Blackfriars route.

 

What is being done to fill the significant gaps in service at Higham?

The services removed will leave some significant train service gaps at Higham. A bus service will operate at these times linking Higham with Strood and onward connections by Southeastern Highspeed services to and from Gravesend and London St Pancras International. 

Customers for intermediate stations via Dartford will be able to change at Gravesend and customers for London Bridge will be able to use Thameslink services to/from London St Pancras. 

Tickets between Higham or Strood and London marked ‘Not valid on HS1’ can be used on these buses and the connecting Highspeed services while the arrangements are in place.

Will my ticket be accepted on High speed services?

Passengers from Higham and Strood will be able to use non-High speed tickets on Southeastern High speed services from Sunday 20 May until Sunday 10 June, inclusive. These ticket acceptance arrangements will be in place at all times of the day.