Thameslink 1988-1994

Status
Not open for further replies.

NorthKent1989

Established Member
Joined
13 May 2017
Messages
1,480
How was it launched? What were planned routes that were dropped in favour of others? Was TfL going to be involved at all or was it purely an NSE initiative?

What were other plans for the line itself in its early years before privatisation?

I read on either this forum or on wiki that they planned to run a service to Ashford International via Maidstone East
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

Sad Sprinter

Member
Joined
5 Jun 2017
Messages
994
Location
Way on down South London town
How was it launched? What were planned routes that were dropped in favour of others? Was TfL going to be involved at all or was it purely an NSE initiative?

What were other plans for the line itself in its early years before privatisation?

I read on either this forum or on wiki that they planned to run a service to Ashford International via Maidstone East
Not sure how it was launched, but London Transport (the predecessor to TfL) would not have had a role because it was strictly a BR project.

In terms of planned routes, I think the only other planned routes would come under Thameslink 2000, because the line would have just replaced whatever terminated at Holborn Viaduct. Thameslink 2000 had some interesting planned routes; Eastbourne, Ashford, Kings Lynn etc, but I have an old map which shows planned routes to Portsmouth via West Croydon and Guildford, Stansted and Folkestone. I’ve read in at least one source Northampton was also considered.

Thameslink would have also had a branch to the CTRL. The “Network Express”, or what we know today as the Javelin, would have came off HS1 onto the Catford at a junction near Peckham (old HS1 plan) and run up the Thameslink line.
 

JonathanH

Established Member
Joined
29 May 2011
Messages
9,251
Not sure how it was launched, but London Transport (the predecessor to TfL) would not have had a role because it was strictly a BR project.
London Transport didn't have a role but it was something with original involvement from the Greater London Council.

Initial routes were, in order through the Core, across an off-peak hour in 1989:
* Bedford to Gatwick Airport via London Bridge
* Cricklewood to Sevenoaks via Catford / Petts Wood
* Luton to Purley via Streatham
* Bedford to Brighton via London Bridge
* Cricklewood to Sevenoaks via Catford / Bat & Ball
* Luton to Purley via Streatham

At peak times, there were only four trains an hour through the core with the Luton trains diverted to the Wimbledon loop and the Gatwick / Brighton trains diverted via Tulse Hill. There were no peak trains to Sevenoaks. This was to provide sufficient numbers of the 319 fleet on the Midland route.

Later, the Sevenoaks trains were all diverted to the Bat & Ball route, Gatwick trains extended to Brighton and the Purley trains went instead to Guildford off-peak via Streatham and West Croydon and the Wimbledon / Sutton loop in the peak. The Guildford service was subsequently cut back to West Croydon.

Finally, Thameslink took over the Wimbledon / Sutton loop completely prior to privatisation, pulling out of the West Croydon route and off-peak Bedford to Gatwick / Brighton services went 4tph.

There clearly were grandiose plans for Thameslink 2000 which I don't have to hand but think I do have a supplement from Rail somewhere which describes what was planned.
 
Last edited:

Taunton

Established Member
Joined
1 Aug 2013
Messages
6,661
I believe the GLC (including leader Ken Livingston, personally) was quite involved in the concept, likewise for some other developments of the time like extending the North London line Dalston to North Woolwich. London Transport was transferred from the GLC to government control in 1984, but the GLC maintained the interest in the project. London Transport were seen then as operators of bus/tube etc rather than strategic transport planners.

The actual budget attributed to the original Thameslink was just £4m, basically to put 3rd rail tracks along the existing, but track lifted, alignment from Farringdon to Blackfriars. I don't know if it even needed a new electrical substation. Offsetting this was the closure and land disposal proceeds of Holborn Viaduct, which probably turned it into a net profit. The rolling stock, class 319s, was accounted for under normal existing fleet replacement - it was justified that there would be no more trains required than before, and various existing stock required replacement anyway.

There was a bit of a cheap-and-cheerful marketing/publicity campaign at the start; ads on LBC radio etc, which while quite regular didn't particularly convey what the new routings available were. It certainly seemed to be branded as Thameslink rather than Network SouthEast.
 
Last edited:

Aictos

On Moderation
Joined
28 Apr 2009
Messages
10,397
London Transport didn't have a role but it was something with original involvement from the Greater London Council.

Initial routes were, in order through the Core, across an off-peak hour in 1989:
* Bedford to Gatwick Airport via London Bridge
* Cricklewood to Sevenoaks via Catford / Petts Wood
* Luton to Purley via Streatham
* Bedford to Brighton via London Bridge
* Cricklewood to Sevenoaks via Catford / Bat & Ball
* Luton to Purley via Streatham

At peak times, there were only four trains an hour through the core with the Luton trains diverted to the Wimbledon loop and the Gatwick / Brighton trains diverted via Tulse Hill. There were no peak trains to Sevenoaks. This was to provide sufficient numbers of the 319 fleet on the Midland route.

Later, the Sevenoaks trains were all diverted to the Bat & Ball route, Gatwick trains extended to Brighton and the Purley trains went instead to Guildford off-peak via Streatham and West Croydon and the Wimbledon / Sutton loop in the peak. The Guildford service was subsequently cut back to West Croydon.

Finally, Thameslink took over the Wimbledon / Sutton loop completely prior to privatisation, pulling out of the West Croydon route and off-peak Bedford to Gatwick / Brighton services went 4tph.

There clearly were grandiose plans for Thameslink 2000 which I don't have to hand but think I do have a supplement from Rail somewhere which describes what was planned.
So there was two trains a hour from Luton to Purley?
 

JonathanH

Established Member
Joined
29 May 2011
Messages
9,251
So there was two trains a hour from Luton to Purley?
In 1989, yes, but it strikes me that Purley was just a convenient place to terminate a stopping service from London for Tulse Hill, Streatham and Croydon.
 

Thebaz

Member
Joined
24 Nov 2016
Messages
245
Location
Sud Croixdans
I remember being told by another enthusiast (when I were a lad) that the Guildford trains would be extended to Portsmouth as part of T2000, but I suspect there was not a grain of truth in it.
 

Aictos

On Moderation
Joined
28 Apr 2009
Messages
10,397
Was there any plans to extend a Luton service to Dunstable?

I'm sure there's a photo of a NSE liveried Class 319 with Dunstable on the destination blind.
 

JonathanH

Established Member
Joined
29 May 2011
Messages
9,251
Was there any plans to extend a Luton service to Dunstable?

I'm sure there's a photo of a NSE liveried Class 319 with Dunstable on the destination blind.
It is somewhat cheaper to put a few extra destinations on a blind than to actually run services to those destinations. They probably had Corby on there as well.

Dunstable probably was talked about for a while but it was never realistic - see https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/luton-dunstable-railway-dual-use-solution.39821/#post-556461
 

Snow1964

Established Member
Joined
7 Oct 2019
Messages
1,161
Location
West Wiltshire
Was there any plans to extend a Luton service to Dunstable?

I'm sure there's a photo of a NSE liveried Class 319 with Dunstable on the destination blind.

They also had Milton Ernest (which is north of Bedford) on the destination blinds. Saw one at a Wimbledon depot open day displaying it (in the days when enthusiasts wound blinds randomly)

Originally only 46 units were provided which replaced 48 class 317s. The order was subsequently increased by 14 to 60. A couple of years later another 26 were added which had lighter colour.

I think the justification for 319s was that the almost new units could be used for other services such as the newly electrified lines to Cambridge and Kings Lynn, so new units were being ordered anyway and they were just being switched with new units costed for those lines.
 

JonathanH

Established Member
Joined
29 May 2011
Messages
9,251
Originally only 46 units were provided which replaced 48 class 317s. The order was subsequently increased by 14 to 60. A couple of years later another 26 were added which had lighter colour.

I think the justification for 319s was that the almost new units could be used for other services such as the newly electrified lines to Cambridge and Kings Lynn, so new units were being ordered anyway and they were just being switched with new units costed for those lines.
Six of the final batch of 26 were effectively replacements for older units lost in accidents - eg Purley.

Part of the justification for Thameslink was elimination of a greater number of units due to efficiency of cross-London operation.

I'd not thought about the switch you indicate but it does seem obvious. I note that 321s did initially operate to Cambridge but later were concentrated on the Great Eastern route with 317s taking their place on the West Anglia lines.

I remember being told by another enthusiast (when I were a lad) that the Guildford trains would be extended to Portsmouth as part of T2000, but I suspect there was not a grain of truth in it.
Portsmouth via Streatham, West Croydon, Sutton and Guildford doesn't seem to be credible - it would just be too slow.

Portsmouth is mentioned here https://husk.org/www.geocities.com/athens/acropolis/7069/tpftla_tl2k.html as an early consideration but it isnt clear which route would have been taken - Wimbledon (with grade separation) or via Sutton, Dorking and Horsham might have been possible.
 
Last edited:

Snow1964

Established Member
Joined
7 Oct 2019
Messages
1,161
Location
West Wiltshire
I vaguely remember that initially some 317s were retained for the Peak hour trains to St Pancras and Moorgate. It was only when the extra units arrived that the 317s moved on.

The creation of Network SouthEast (and the economic boom of late 1980s) meant there wasn’t that much publicity initially. There had been a number of cuts to minimise units being retained prior to 1987 asbestos deadline. There was at the time urgent need for more trains in late 1980s which couldn’t wait for new networker design and ultimately led to extra 319s and extra batches of 321s

Another reason for not advertising heavily was the shutdown for few weeks when the remaining viaduct to Holborn was demolished and Ludgate Hill raised to go over the new sub-surface line which had been partly built in advance alongside the high level route. Only when works were done and line reopened was there a serious effort to promote Thameslink
 
Joined
10 Jan 2018
Messages
193
Was the construction of the new sub-surface line to replace Holborn Viaduct always been in the Thameslink plan prior to its opening in 1987, or was that plan made sometime after the line opened?

As I understand, Thameslink opened using the Holborn Viaduct for the next two or so years, before being replaced with the new sub-surface line and a new station at City Thameslink to replace Ludgate Hill.
 

30907

Veteran Member
Joined
30 Sep 2012
Messages
12,096
Location
Airedale
Was the construction of the new sub-surface line to replace Holborn Viaduct always been in the Thameslink plan prior to its opening in 1987, or was that plan made sometime after the line opened?
I don't recall anything at the time the original Thameslink was opened, but I'm happy to be told otherwise.
As I understand, Thameslink opened using the Holborn Viaduct for the next two or so years, before being replaced with the new sub-surface line and a new station at City Thameslink to replace Ludgate Hill.
It used the historic route through the long-closed (WW1 economy) Holborn LL; the platform at Ludgate Hill had also closed (1929) - its platform wasn't long enough for 8 car electrics - and was never served by TL.
 

Bald Rick

Veteran Member
Joined
28 Sep 2010
Messages
20,224
Was the construction of the new sub-surface line to replace Holborn Viaduct always been in the Thameslink plan prior to its opening in 1987, or was that plan made sometime after the line opened?

As I understand, Thameslink opened using the Holborn Viaduct for the next two or so years, before being replaced with the new sub-surface line and a new station at City Thameslink to replace Ludgate Hill.

It was planned separately, but the planning started before the Thameslink core reopened.

I have, somewhere, a Modern Railways special about electrification, produced before the name ‘Thameslink’ was invented. In the early days it was simply ‘inter-regional’ services (SR to LMR) and then for a while they were known as ‘Interconnexion’ which I presume is simply copying what the RER in Paris used for its new links.

What has been said above is correct: GLC paid for the feasibility study (BR weren’t interested, as it crossed the regional fiefdom boundary) and lobbied very hard to get it going. Then Chris Green turned up at NSE and it took off. The business case was based entirely on the savings made in rolling stock from avoiding London terminal layover time - there was little (possibly no) revenue gain assumed. Seems incredible now.

I remember the line appearing on Tomorrow’s World about 6 months before opening - the Structure Gauging Train went through the tunnel and this was very new technology at the time. Seeing Judith Hann nextto a Class 73 on a Thursday night whilst I waited for Top of the Pops was slightly surprising.

One further nugget - when the fast services went to 4tph down to Brighton immediately pre privatisation - as an ORCATS raid presumably - that was done without the knowledge of BRs top brass and promptly earned the designate M.D. of the franchise a trip to the job centre. (Jim Collins, recently retired from consultancy).
 

ChiefPlanner

Established Member
Joined
6 Sep 2011
Messages
6,874
Location
Herts
It was an amazing project - much of it done "in house" for a very modest sum of money. The 319's were a terrific class really - but the confidence from the 313's (dual voltage) really helped. One of the best bits of NSE really in grasping the nettle and getting things done quickly with very tight cost control.
 

Journeyman

Established Member
Joined
16 Apr 2014
Messages
6,278
It was an amazing project - much of it done "in house" for a very modest sum of money. The 319's were a terrific class really - but the confidence from the 313's (dual voltage) really helped. One of the best bits of NSE really in grasping the nettle and getting things done quickly with very tight cost control.
Absolutely. I remember it opening, and the huge novelty of crossing London on one train. Ultimately, it was all justified as a way of getting maximum bang for buck with new rolling stock. By turning services into new cross-London workings, you ran trains from north to south with two terminals instead of four, and this meant you needed a smaller fleet to operate everything. The 319s enabled a lot of knackered EPBs to be withdrawn, and also allowed a cascade of the 317s to WCML services. The displaced 310s enabled unrefurbished 302s to go for scrap.

It was an extremely efficient project in terms of how widely it spread the benefits.
 

Peter Mugridge

Veteran Member
Joined
8 Apr 2010
Messages
12,255
Location
Epsom
Portsmouth via Streatham, West Croydon, Sutton and Guildford doesn't seem to be credible - it would just be too slow.

Portsmouth is mentioned here https://husk.org/www.geocities.com/athens/acropolis/7069/tpftla_tl2k.html as an early consideration but it isn't clear which route would have been taken - Wimbledon (with grade separation) or via Sutton, Dorking and Horsham might have been possible.
It would have been either an extension to the Guildford service or via Dorking - Horsham; definitely not the mains via Wimbledon - there wouldn't have been the budget for the complete rebuild that a grade separated connection would have required.

From memory of using it, the via Epsom to Guildford Thameslinks, while they lasted, were faster than they sound - and further extension would in any case have been provided with the idea of giving people a direct link across London, not necessarily the fastest service. Convenience was the name of the game.
 

Taunton

Established Member
Joined
1 Aug 2013
Messages
6,661
I wonder to what extent the cross-London facility is actually used. Certainly from casual observation very few who are on board entering London Bridge northbound seem still in it leaving Kings Cross. Same as on cross-London lines on the Underground.

Ludgate Hill old station platforms almost spanned the distance between Blackfriars and Holborn Viaduct. The distance reopened between Farringdon and Blackfriars is less than three quarters of a mile. I always wondered what the purpose thus was of building, at considerable expense, City Thameslink station in between them. It certainly seems the least used of this group of City stations.

I seemed to have several bad experiences with the 319s the few times I used them. Arriving Saturday mid-morning at Gatwick airport some 10 years ago, what would be a convenient service to London Bridge for the Jubilee Line rolled in from Brighton as just 4 cars, well-filled already. Considerable difficulty with everyone's luggage, and at East Croydon people were left behind - on a normal Saturday morning. It was like a commuter service in Calcutta. Passing Selhurst depot it was of course stuffed with units idling the weekend away. And on another occasion I changed from the westbound Underground to the line at Farringdon. From the front of the Underground, directly onto the southbound Thameslink platform at the end where they touch, standing under the next train indicator. In comes the 319, 4 cars only, and rolls right through to the south end of the platform, eight cars away. By the time I had walked forward it just departed ...
 

Ianno87

Veteran Member
Joined
3 May 2015
Messages
15,199
I wonder to what extent the cross-London facility is actually used. Certainly from casual observation very few who are on board entering London Bridge northbound seem still in it leaving Kings Cross. Same as on cross-London lines on the Underground.

The real benefit is "permeating" London from each side without needing to use the Tube - being able to get to London Bridge from Luton / Stevenage, or St Pancras from Brighton, etc. That's by far the biggest use.

The number of people who sit on the train right across London without getting on or off in Zone 1 is probably relatively small, but there are people that do it - there is a noticeable minority of folk boarding at Cambridge and heading to Gatwick, daytrippers from Bedford to Brighton, that sort of thing.

I also notice pre-Covid demand to/from Finsbury Park from the south is also far from trivial - on a northbound evening peak service you'd typically see more people alight (having joined in the core or further south) than board there.
 

ChiefPlanner

Established Member
Joined
6 Sep 2011
Messages
6,874
Location
Herts
Absolutely. I remember it opening, and the huge novelty of crossing London on one train. Ultimately, it was all justified as a way of getting maximum bang for buck with new rolling stock. By turning services into new cross-London workings, you ran trains from north to south with two terminals instead of four, and this meant you needed a smaller fleet to operate everything. The 319s enabled a lot of knackered EPBs to be withdrawn, and also allowed a cascade of the 317s to WCML services. The displaced 310s enabled unrefurbished 302s to go for scrap.

It was an extremely efficient project in terms of how widely it spread the benefits.

The very clever NSE stock cascade was masterminded by 2 people , who reported directly to Chris Green , and of course they were totally unfettered by "contracts" , just internal contracts of a basically simple basis. One of the benefits of one railway for London.

Living in the poor end of SW19 at the time , and working at Watford , it was a great experience to travel on the very first northbound Thameslink from Haydons Road (a 4 car 319 on the 0740) , whereas the previous day it had been a South Central 4EPB. A neighbour had her life transformed as she was able to get to her job in Borehamwood directly.
 

John Webb

Established Member
Joined
5 Jun 2010
Messages
2,265
Location
St Albans
It arrived ten years too late for me - I was in SE18 and got a job in Borehamwood in 1969. But from 1975 to 77 the annual season ticket almost doubled in price and sitting down with a calculator I worked out I could afford a mortgage for the cost of the ticket and moved to the St Albans area. But it was interesting to see the development of the line and much improved attending meetings in London - down to Blackfriars and pick up the Circle line to get to Westminster or St James Park. Recently it's been rather odd while working at St Albans South box to hear my old station name crop up as one of the places the next train will call at!
 

30907

Veteran Member
Joined
30 Sep 2012
Messages
12,096
Location
Airedale
Ludgate Hill old station platforms almost spanned the distance between Blackfriars and Holborn Viaduct. The distance reopened between Farringdon and Blackfriars is less than three quarters of a mile. I always wondered what the purpose thus was of building, at considerable expense, City Thameslink station in between them. It certainly seems the least used of this group of City stations.
It allowed Holborn Viaduct to be closed and Ludgate Hill bridge to be removed (this kept the City authorities happy). It was used by SE as a terminating point for many years to relieve Blackfriars, so there may have been an operating need too.
 

Taunton

Established Member
Joined
1 Aug 2013
Messages
6,661
I always felt it was a missed opportunity in 1900 for the Central London Railway to build their Tube right under the forecourt of Holborn Viaduct station without an interchange there. It had to duck down anyway to pass beneath the low level through tracks. If that had been done Holborn Viaduct would surely have taken on a new lease of life as a terminus, and the whole arrangement today would be different.

John Betjeman wrote in the 1950s about having persuaded a porter at Holborn Viaduct to take him down the otherwise abandoned steps to the low level Snow Hill platforms, apparently reached by a door somewhere from the upper station. Tracks still in use but platforms abandoned since 1914.
 

Rick1984

Member
Joined
23 Aug 2012
Messages
901
I used it the full length once when I was routed Norwood Junction to Cambridge, on journey from Portsmouth to Great Yarmouth during engineering works.
It was during lockdown so it was empty, pre-mask wearing. It was quite good and I sat in de-classified first though the seats still weren't comfy
 

30907

Veteran Member
Joined
30 Sep 2012
Messages
12,096
Location
Airedale
I always felt it was a missed opportunity in 1900 for the Central London Railway to build their Tube right under the forecourt of Holborn Viaduct station without an interchange there. It had to duck down anyway to pass beneath the low level through tracks. If that had been done Holborn Viaduct would surely have taken on a new lease of life as a terminus, and the whole arrangement today would be different.
An interesting thought. Holborn back then was almost exclusively used by the City portions of longer distance services - I wonder if the CLR didn't think it was worth it, or whether the SEC objected?
 

Helvellyn

Established Member
Joined
28 Aug 2009
Messages
1,705
Ludgate Hill old station platforms almost spanned the distance between Blackfriars and Holborn Viaduct. The distance reopened between Farringdon and Blackfriars is less than three quarters of a mile. I always wondered what the purpose thus was of building, at considerable expense, City Thameslink station in between them. It certainly seems the least used of this group of City stations.
If the Jubilee Line extension had been built as planned there would have been an interchange station with City Thameslink so its importance would have increased.

I think the name doesn't help because City Thameslink doesn't place it anywhere specifically in the City. Supposedly the London Fire Brigade objected to the original name of St Paul's Thameslink in case it caused confusion with St Paul's station on the Central Line but how true I am unsure given you had King's Cross and King's Cross Thameslink. Ludgate & Holborn might have been a better name.
 

Bald Rick

Veteran Member
Joined
28 Sep 2010
Messages
20,224
I’m reasonably sure NSE decided on City Thameslink to identify it as a station near the City. It’s not that much further to Bank from City TL as to Bank from Liverpool St, for example.
 

ChiefPlanner

Established Member
Joined
6 Sep 2011
Messages
6,874
Location
Herts
I wonder to what extent the cross-London facility is actually used. Certainly from casual observation very few who are on board entering London Bridge northbound seem still in it leaving Kings Cross. Same as on cross-London lines on the Underground.

Ludgate Hill old station platforms almost spanned the distance between Blackfriars and Holborn Viaduct. The distance reopened between Farringdon and Blackfriars is less than three quarters of a mile. I always wondered what the purpose thus was of building, at considerable expense, City Thameslink station in between them. It certainly seems the least used of this group of City stations.

I seemed to have several bad experiences with the 319s the few times I used them. Arriving Saturday mid-morning at Gatwick airport some 10 years ago, what would be a convenient service to London Bridge for the Jubilee Line rolled in from Brighton as just 4 cars, well-filled already. Considerable difficulty with everyone's luggage, and at East Croydon people were left behind - on a normal Saturday morning. It was like a commuter service in Calcutta. Passing Selhurst depot it was of course stuffed with units idling the weekend away. And on another occasion I changed from the westbound Underground to the line at Farringdon. From the front of the Underground, directly onto the southbound Thameslink platform at the end where they touch, standing under the next train indicator. In comes the 319, 4 cars only, and rolls right through to the south end of the platform, eight cars away. By the time I had walked forward it just departed ...

Thanks to privatisation - and a lax not monitered off peak service train capacity plan it was not in the interest of a TOC to run 8 vice 4 as there was a mileage charge for the use of the rolling stock , which therefore slumbered in the sidings at weekends etc.

Clearly providing a great passenger experience

In my days as an Ops Manager -even in the franchise days , I would target train strengthening where neccesary (say add 4 at Northampton when there was something on at International exhibition wise or at Xmas) , and to hell with the cost.

Franchise agreements had a capacity metric off peak , but it was often not picked up on.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top