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Railwatch 074 - December 1997

Bridge to the future

A new rail station straddling the River Thames in London is just one aspect of the ambitious Thameslink 2000 scheme which has been stalled for five years, waiting for the privatisation process.

Design options for Blackfriars station are still being evaluated but it could well have an impressive roof. It is also expected to have both through tracks and bay platforms which could handle 12-car trains.

The platforms will span the river with an entrance on both sides. It will give easy access to Bankside, where the new Tate Gallery of Modern Art is being constructed inside the shell of the old Bankside power station, as well as to the new Globe Theatre nearby.

Eight-car Thameslink trains already run across Blackfriars Bridge from Bedford and Luton to Gatwick and Brighton. But the £580 million Thameslink 2000 project will expand an already highly successful service.

Trains would be able to run to Peterborough and King's Lynn as well as Guidlford, Littlehampton, Eastbourne, Ashford and Dartford.

Railtrack says it is aiming to increase capacity by making "cost-effectice improvements to London's existing railway infrastructure". Such phrases are music to the ears of RDS members. Much of the work for Thameslink 2000 will be concentrated in the Borough Market area which can trace its origins back to the 13th century. The aim will be to double rail capacity at this point.

There will also be a new station at St Pancras, a remodelled Faringdon and a new four-track flyunder near Millwall football stadium. The aim is to start work in the year 2000 with trains running by 2004.

Similar cross-city links, have been created and developed in several cities but most successfully by Paris. There are also plans for a £500 million cross-city tunnel in Glasgow, linking Central and Queen Street stations.

One benefit would be to allow West Coast main line trains to continue north. Another would be better links to Glasgow airport.

An alternative £80 million CrossRail project would put in new links between existing tracks to provide through connections.

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