Published 27th April 2012
The new timetable, which comes into effect on 20th May 2012, is most notably altered thanks to the completion of Key Output One in the Thameslink Programme, which sees the two new bay platforms at London Blackfriars being brought into use, as well as the line here remaining open during weekends.
Services that operate from Sevenoaks, via Swanley and Catford to Thameslink stations will continue during daytime periods on weekdays. These services, however, do not operate during evenings or weekends as a result of various civil engineers’ projects.
In the new timetable, all services along the Catford Loop line to Sevenoaks and Orpington will operate to London Blackfriars, including Saturdays and Sundays. They will also run later from Sevenoaks. Rolling stock may be Class 319 or Class 465 units. Another improvement on this line is the removal of the prolonged gap in service between the penultimate and last train each evening, thanks to a number of new train services between Blackfriars and Sevenoaks.
At present, various discrepancies occur in the timetable along the Bexleyheath line, between Lewisham and Barnehurst. During off peak periods, services from London Cannon Street operate to Slade Green, forming services back to Cannon Street. The same happens in return, creating a continuous loop.
Similarly, the Sidcup line enjoys a comparable through route to stations in Woolwich and Greenwich. The new timetable will see a number of services on the Bexleyheath line operating to the Woolwich line instead of becoming empty coaching stock movements, or operating to other stations, such as Dartford.
The Medway Valley line, between Strood and Paddock Wood via Maidstone West, will receive a welcome boost in the form of the removal of “Networker” rolling stock from the line in the new timetable. “Networker” trains do not feature tables, carpeted flooring or first class accommodation, and are built for suburban or urban rail services. The use of “Electrostar” trains, all of which will be 3 coaches long, will also mean a 50% increase in capacity, and the option to improve the passenger environment on this “Main Line” or “Country” route.
This change may also create a rise in passenger numbers, or provide a stimulus for passengers to connect with High Speed services at Strood.