I’ve been hearing from some decent sources that the planned May introduction of Thameslink services from Luton Airport, St Pancras and Farringdon through Greenwich, Woolwich, Abbey Wood and Dartford and then Medway has hit a hitch and could be delayed.
Test runs of trains have taken place in recent days though there are concerns if enough trains and staff will be ready for the planned introduction in less than two months on 20th May.
It wouldn’t be the first delay to hit the program, originally named Thameslink 2000 due to it’s planned commencement at the turn of the Millennium.
In recent months plans for this summer have been scaled back with some service introductions delayed until December and others into 2019.
If it is delayed it leaves Southeastern in a pickle. Southeastern currently run eight trains an hour off-peak on the line (and around the same in the peaks though it was more before Thameslink work begun in 2015). That will be cut to six from May with Thameslink running another two to retain existing service levels.
Other changes alongside Thameslink’s introduction include ceasing all fast trains on the line with London Charing Cross to Gillingham services now curtailed at Dartford.
Incidentally, terminating the Southeastern service at Dartford instead of Gillingham from May is odd as retaining the route would mean four trains an hour instead of two from Medway to Abbey Wood to link with Crossrail from December.
If Thameslink plans are delayed Southeastern will presumably carry on as they are – and other projects such as maintenance not affected. If they were hoping to use Thameslink’s introduction for large-scale work on trains this could raise big difficulties.
A large cut in services on the Woolwich and Greenwich line until Thameslink are ready would hit commuters hard.
As noted before, despite Thameslink services from Dartford to London Bridge being up to 20% slower than existing all-stopping Southeastern trains, Thameslink will pass through Belvedere, Erith and Woolwich Dockyard without stopping.