Train operator Thameslink is not commenting on rumours that its new cross-London service through Greenwich, Woolwich and Dartford may not start a full service next month as planned.
New-look rail timetables from 20 May are due to see the current Charing Cross to Gillingham trains, operated by Southeastern, replaced by trains from Luton to Rainham in Kent.
These trains would run via Farringdon, Blackfriars, London Bridge and Greenwich in place of one of the existing Cannon Street via Greenwich services, with a new Southeastern service from Charing Cross to Lewisham, Woolwich and Dartford being introduced.
The Thameslink service will use new Class 700 trains – which have been criticised for their seating – are already running on the existing Thameslink network and are running daily test journeys along the new routes.
But Thameslink will need many more trains to provide a full service to Rainham and other new destinations such as Cambridge, Peterborough and Horsham – and posters on rail forums have been reporting issues with a shortage of new trains coming into service, with some claiming Southeastern has been asked to draw up plans to run replacement services.
The official site for the timetable changes, Railplan 2020, is opaque on the issue, telling users “a completely new timetable will be rolled out over several weeks during May and June” [our emphasis].
However, when asked for comment on the rumours, Thameslink declined to address them directly.
A spokesperson said: “Following the country’s biggest ever passenger consultation, we are now preparing to make the biggest timetable change for decades this May, with new routes and connections, and dozens of stations being linked into the Thameslink network for the first time. Passengers can explore their own new timetables on the National Rail Journey Planner (searching on dates after 20 May) and on the Railplan 20/20 site.”
Searching for a typical journey under the new timetable (Charlton to Mill Hill Broadway on Monday 21 May) returns a warning message nothing that services could change.
Southeastern was also asked for comment, but did not come back with a response.
Services are due to run between Luton and Rainham on Mondays to Saturdays and Kentish Town to Rainham on Sundays. They will not call at Woolwich Dockyard, Belvedere or Erith.
If all goes to plan, the new service pattern means Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill and Westcombe Park will have four trains per hour to Cannon Street and two to Blackfriars and beyond; Charlton, Woolwich Arsenal, Plumstead, Abbey Wood and Slade Green will have four to Cannon Street, two to Charing Cross and two to Blackfriars; while Woolwich Dockyard, Belvedere and Erith will have four to Cannon Street and two to Charing Cross.
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