1. ITV Report

Passengers braced for 'biggest timetable shake-up in rail history': What's going to change?

The changes will come into force on Sunday. Credit: PA

Rail commuters are being warned to get ready for what's been billed as the "biggest timetable shake-up in rail history".

Train times on the Govia Thameslink Railway network will be changed from Sunday May 20, and many passengers have been told to expect their trains to start and terminate at different stations.

As part of the alterations, there will be more frequent trains from Bedford and Luton into London, as well as double the amount of seats on some morning peak services from Cambridge to the capital.

"We don’t want passengers to get caught out and so we strongly advise them to look up the times of their trains as they will find that from 20 May each and every one of them has changed," Charles Horton, Govia Thameslink Railway Chief Executive, said.

“Due to the sheer scale of the changes, we will have to redeploy a large number of trains and crews and services may not run at normal times during the introductory phase, although the impact on peak time services during the transition will be minimal.”

“Introduction of the new timetables is a major milestone in the delivery of RailPlan 20/20, our programme to modernise rail services, taking advantage of the new infrastructure and trains provided by the Government’s £7bn Thameslink Programme.”

  • Watch a report on the timetable changes by ITV News Anglia's Liz Summers

Despite the optimism from Govia Thameslink Railway, the RMT union insists the new timetable could have "disastrous consequences".

“The planned new timetable on GTR will place massive additional strains on infrastructure and staffing levels that are already struggling to cope with current capacity," General Secretary Mick Cash said.

"The company are winging it with potentially disastrous consequences. Instead of trusting them with a new timetable they should be stripped of the franchise to make way for an integrated, publicly owned operation that is properly equipped to deliver these services.”

What services will be affected here?

Passengers travelling from Cambridge will be among those to see changes to services. Credit: ITV News Anglia
  • There will be a significant increase in frequency and length of trains between Bedford and St Pancras. From Bedford, there will be 32% more carriages, 3,000 more seats (33% more), and two express services an hour.
  • From Luton, there will also be 27% more carriages and 3,200 more seats (25% more).
  • Introduction of a new half-hourly peak-time cross-London service from East Grinstead via Oxted to London Bridge, Blackfriars, Farringdon, City Thameslink, St Pancras International and beyond to St Albans, Luton Airport Parkway, Luton and Bedford.
  • Direct Thameslink services from Cambridge to Brighton via London Bridge and Gatwick Airport will be implemented.
  • Similar Direct Thameslink services from Peterborough to Horsham via London Bridge and Gatwick Airport will also come into force.
  • From Cambridge, there will be 50% more seats (2,700 extra) compared to May 2017 on extra services and longer trains in the morning peak to London.
  • A third more carriages from Peterborough, Huntingdon and St Neots with over 1,200 more seats (over 20% more) will be introduced.
  • Increased frequency and capacity of trains from Welwyn Garden City.
  • Increased off peak services between Moorgate and Welwyn Garden City.
  • Trains between London Kings Cross and Kings Lynn will now serve Cambridge North.
  • Improved evening services between London and Hitchin, Letchworth and Baldock.
  • Changes to calling patterns for Royston and Letchworth.
  • A quarter more carriages and 20% more seats (over 1,300 more) from Royston.
  • Foxton, Meldreth and Shepreth stations will get eight-carriage new Thameslink trains and passengers at these stations will have a third more carriages and a quarter more seats.
  • Three-quarters more carriages and over 60% more seats (over 2,500 more) from Biggleswade.
  • A third more carriages and a quarter more seats from Hitchin.
  • 15% more carriages and 6% more seats from Stevenage.
  • 50% more carriages and 35% more seats rom Sandy.