Half Century Old Dual Powered Veterans Keep the 21st Century Thameslink Upgrade Programme “On Track”

Published on 28th February 2012

A Record

A record number of eight locomotives, built 50 years ago, ventured north of the Thames to supply track relaying trains in the Thameslink “Central Bore” tunnel.

Thameslink Programme

GB Railfreight’s Class 73 Electro-Diesel fleet was used to haul works trains in previously unseen numbers north of London. They provided Network Rail and their contractors with the necessary materials to continue progress with the multi-billion pound Thameslink Programme.

The trains entered the Thameslink route at Kentish Town station, with sleepers, track and ballast descending into the “Central Bore”, which is between St Pancras and London Blackfriars, to relay track. Signalling equipment was also affected during the works.

Very few classes of locomotives are allowed into these tunnels so this was a rare event which only happens on inspection or engineering trains.

The programme is progressing well, and is expected to be completed in 2016. When it is finished, the current fleet of Class 319 and 377 multiple units will be replaced with a brand new build, expected to be built by Siemens. It will also see the previously exclusive-to-Thameslink Midland Main Line joined by routes towards Cambridge and Peterborough on the East Coast Main Line. South of London, it is anticipated that services will reach Guildford, Littlehampton, Eastbourne, East Grinstead and Dartford.

Over the 3rd weekend in February, the infrastructure trains featured a “celebrity pairing” of locomotives, in the shape of 73109 and 73201. 73109, still in South West Trains livery, is owned by Transmart Trains. 73201, which is privately owned, was also hired to assist in running these trains.

Also in use on the works trains were GB Railfreight’s 73141, 73204, 73206, 73207, 73212 and 73213.

The class, which is able to run on both Diesel and Third Rail electric power, will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. There may be several small scale enthusiast events to mark the anniversary, these will be announced on rail.co.uk.

External Links


Have your say...

Please note: you have to be logged into the site before you can leave a comment

Liverpool street station in the UK at rush hour

Help and advice with train travel in the UK

Train travel in the UK should be a pleasure, not a headache. So if you’re taking a train on the UK railway, start your journey here. We’ve lots of hints, tips and advice to help you find your way around, travel smoothly and arrive in style by train.

Read more

eurostars passing at 375mph from the drivers seat in france


Welcome to our #railchat page. Our #railchat discussions take place over on Twitter, with our resident expert Phil Marsh. If you would like to get involved, please do join us, and use the dedicated hashtag #railchat. See our previous discussions below:

Read more

Old steam train in Shanty Town Museum

Locomotives & Engines

Our rail network would be nothing without them. From Stephenson's Rocket to British Rail Class 92 and beyond, explore the facts, information and anecdotes behind the steam, diesel and electric locomotives that built the age of the train.

Read more


Latest Tweets


Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh to London Kings Cross by Train

Book in advance with redspottedhanky.com and save 85% advanced bookings.

From £21.00

Buy now

Millenium Dome, London

Birmingham New Street to London Euston by Train

Book in advance with redspottedhanky.com and save 92% on advance bookings.

From £6

Buy now

You may also like...



Follow us on Twitter and become part of our rail community!



redspottedhanky.com is the easy way to buy cheap train tickets online.



Control your business fuel costs with a supermarket fuel card – free to apply, no ongoing account charges and no monthly minimum spend.