Peterborough, Cambridge, Ely, Littleport, Downham Market and Kings Lynn get boost from major rail shake up
- Credit: Archant
The biggest shake up in years for Cambridgeshire rail commuters is under way with extra seats on the Cambridge to London route promised, the doubling to half hourly of trains to Kings Lynn, Littleport and Ely and better connections for rail users from Peterborough.
The news follows the decision by the Government to award the new Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) franchise to Govia Thameslink Railway Limited.
South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss said the commitment of a half-hourly service is extremely positive for rail commuters.
She said: “With the extra seats, improved stations and ticketing, rail travel should become even more attractive
“Combined with the completion of the A11 works, the drive for full dualling of the A47 and continued investment in broadband, this is all a real boost to the area in terms of future growth for jobs, education, housing and tourism.”
Govia will take over from First Capital Connect on September 14 and will also take over the South Central franchise, which operated as Southern and Gatwick Express, from 2015.
The seven-year franchise, the largest ever let in terms of passenger numbers, will open up new routes across London.
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It will improve services to destinations along the Greater Northern routes, including King’s Lynn, Cambridge and Peterborough into King’s Cross.
New trains will be rolled out from 2016 and there will 3,000 seats from Cambridge to London in the morning peak and overall capacity more than doubled by December 2018;
Cambridge and Peterborough will be directly linked to St Pancras, Farringdon, City Thameslink, Blackfriars, London Bridge, East Croydon and further south from 2018.
This will include two trains per hour from Cambridge to Brighton via Gatwick Airport, two trains from Cambridge to Tattenham Corner, and two trains per hour between Peterborough to Horsham via Gatwick. Off-peak journeys on the Cambridge Express between Cambridge and King’s Cross will be cut to less than 50 minutes and Cambridge will receive an additional two trains per hour off-peak to and from central London.
Rail Minister Stephen Hammond said: “A world class railway is a vital part of our long-term economic plan. “New state-of-the-art trains, more seats, better connections and improved stations will transform travel across London and the South East.”
New tunnels will link Peterborough and Cambridge to the existing Thameslink route, providing easy access across London via St Pancras to Gatwick and Brighton.
Govia has promised free Wi-Fi at more than 100 stations, better retail and catering outlets and improvements to customer information systems. Staffing hours will also be extended so that at more than 100 of the largest stations there will be staff available from the first train in the morning to the last train at night.
FCC managing director David Statham said: “We are of course disappointed that FirstGroup has not been selected as the operator for the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise. We will work with Govia in order to secure the smooth transition of operations.
“I am tremendously proud of the improvements we have brought to the FCC franchise, and our role as a key partner in the Thameslink Programme. Our achievements include almost 30,000 extra seats over both routes at our business times, launching the new Class 700 rolling stock, transforming our class 365 trains, investing over £41million in station improvements, opening new communication channels with our customers including Twitter, and providing a safe and secure railway through our £1million investment in extra police support officers at stations.
“I want to thank our employees for their hard work and continued efforts to deliver the best possible service for our passengers.”