First Capital Connect celebrates the end of cross-London engineering work

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• Improvements to the Thameslink route completed after 3 ½ years • Routes across central London will open throughout the week and at weekends • ‘Special seaside train’ marks end of work carried out by National Rail

First Capital Connect (FCC) is celebrating the end of cross-London engineering work on the Thameslink route, which took 3 ½ years to complete. The coast is now clear and, since 19th May, the rail group have been running much-improved services across central London and uninterrupted journeys between Bedford and Brighton.

Previously, the Thameslink route had been closed between St Pancras International (and sometimes Kentish town) and London Bridge/Herne Hill every night and virtually every weekend. Passengers were forced to take the Tube across London, but all has now changed as the route’s reopened throughout the week and weekends.

This is great news for anyone heading by train to Gatwick or Luton with heavy luggage, as both of these airports are on the Thameslink route. Passengers can also enjoy an undisturbed trip to the coast, without worrying about rail work and there will be later trains to Brighton from the Big Smoke – giving theatregoers extra time in the capital.

What’s more, First Capital Connect is now running longer weekend trains to help meet demand. Eight carriage trains (instead of four) will operate nearly all day between Bedford and Brighton on Saturdays and Sundays, easing the pressure of commuting. Blackfriars station will also be open at weekends and its new South Bank entrance makes it ideal for the Tate Modern, Globe Theatre and many other cultural attractions.

There will also be a better weekend service for people on the Wimbledon/Sutton loop. On Saturdays from 26 May, extra evening trains will run on the Wimbledon loop to and from St Albans. Also, for the first time, from 27 May, there will be a new Sunday service between Sutton and Blackfriars via Mitcham Junction, twice an hour.

The Sunday service has also been improved for East Croydon. Previously, FCC had been operating two trains an hour just one station stop north to and from London Bridge on Sundays. With the new timetable, there are now four trains an hour on Sundays and Saturdays through London Bridge right across London all the way to Bedford and back.

To celebrate the engineering work, FCC laid on a ‘special seaside train’ on the 19th May to give local children and their families (almost 500 in all) a free day trip to Brighton. On board entertainment included a magician, clown and face painters and a host of activities were lined up at the Brighton Fringe festival, which FCC sponsored.

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