The government has safeguarded the future of a popular south London rail service ahead of a major overhaul of the network, Rail Minister Simon Burns announced today (21 January 2013).
Passengers travelling to central London on the Wimbledon Loop had faced the prospect of having to change trains at Blackfriars Station from 2018 under proposals put forward under the Thameslink programme.
However, after extensive consultation with stakeholders and local rail users, the Department for Transport has worked closely with Network Rail to make sure the route continues to operate as part of Thameslink’s core services.
Rail Minister Simon Burns said:
The Wimbledon Loop provides a vital service for thousands of Londoners every day, and we have worked hard to safeguard its future after listening to the concerns of local people and stakeholders.
The Thameslink programme is having a huge impact on improving rail services across London and beyond, but the department was always concerned that the initial proposals for this route were not quite right.
I am therefore extremely pleased that Network Rail have relooked at the plans and am confident this decision will provide benefits to rail users for years to come.
Currently, 4 trains run every hour from Wimbledon Loop stations serving Merton, Morden, Sutton, Carshalton, Mitcham, Streatham and Tulse Hill, through to St Pancras International and beyond.
Under the new proposals 8 Thameslink trains will run per hour via Elephant and Castle, including the 4 Wimbledon Loop trains, 2 from Sevenoaks via Bromley South and Catford, and 2 (peak only) from Maidstone East via Bromley South.
Notes to editors
The Thameslink programme is a £6 billion project in south-east England to upgrade and expand the Thameslink rail network to provide new and longer trains between a wider range of stations to the north and south of London without requiring passengers to change trains in London. Work includes platform lengthening, station remodelling, new railway infrastructure and additional rolling stock.
Blackfriars Station has recently been rebuilt to the cost of £600 million as part of the programme with the ‘bay’ platforms (for the use of trains terminating from the south) being moved from the east side to the west side of the station.
At peak times, from December 2018, 16 trains per hour will approach Blackfriars from the London Bridge direction, and 8 trains per hour from the Elephant and Castle direction. They will then proceed through the Thameslink core towards central London.
More than 16,000 journeys are made on Wimbledon Loop services each weekday.
The DFT franchise consultation, the purpose of which was to inform the specification for the new Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise, ran from 31 May to 14 September 2012. It received a total of 3,500 responses with 2,200 in favour of retaining the route.
The consultation document is available on the www.gov.uk website.
A map of the route is available.