Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Peter Lilley met executives from Network Rail yesterday to discuss the upgrade work being carried out on the Thameslink lines and ensure disruption to passengers is kept to an absolute minimum until the project is completed.

    “I have received anguished complaints from constituents since the autumn about the poor service provided on the local Thameslink network,” said Peter. “Yesterday, I met senior staff from Network Rail at the Thameslink construction site in London Bridge to find out what progress is being made and how the new infrastructure will benefit those living in Hitchin and Harpenden.”

    “When complete it will immensely improve the capacity, frequency and reliability of services on the Thameslink line. Harpenden will see additional capacity as 12 coach trains are progressively introduced from early next year, helping to ease the crush. Frequency during rush hours will increase to 12 to 14 trains per hour instead of 8 or 9 – and those peak times will be extended to 3 hours rather than the single hour today. There will also be more direct trains to London Bridge and a full peak service to London Bridge for the first time ever.

    “But the biggest problem from which local commuters have been suffering has been unreliability. Up to now Thameslink trains have had to cross five other lines at London Bridge so that if any trains on any of those lines are out of schedule our services are likely to suffer. Once this massive project is complete Thameslink trains will pass under the other lines so reliability should be dramatically improved. But I emphasized to the project management the importance of minimizing disruption while this huge project is underway – local commuters are at the end of their tether.

    “On the Hitchin line more 12 coach trains will also start to appear from next year. And from May 2018 direct services through Blackfriars and London Bridge will begin. Both Hitchin and Harpenden will benefit from connections at Farringdon via Crossrail allowing increased access to London’s West End, Canary Wharf and through to Reading and Heathrow Airport.

    “Over the next few years we can look forward to major improvements in services as this massive investment brings services through London coupled with improved connections, reduced waiting times, better stations and longer trains. But it is crucial in the meantime to minimize the pain passengers have recently suffered.”