Thameslink Railway Line

Department for Transport written question – answered on 6th March 2020.

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Photo of Thomas Tugendhat Thomas Tugendhat Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee, Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what contractual obligations his Department has with Govia Thameslink Railway to deliver the Thameslink programme, including the service to Maidstone East.

Photo of Chris Heaton-Harris Chris Heaton-Harris Minister of State (Department for Transport)

The Franchise Agreement between Govia Thameslink Railway and the Department specifies two trains per hour between Maidstone East and Cambridge (via the Thameslink core). As with any service introduction, this is subject to obtaining the necessary track access rights from Network Rail.

Following the introduction of the May 2018 timetable, which caused serious disruption to passengers, it was decided any new introduction of service would need to go through more rigorous scrutiny. Thus all future timetable changes need to guarantee the stability and reliability of services.

Unfortunately, introducing the Maidstone East Thameslink services onto an already busy and complex railway network is not yet possible without seriously compromising reliability of existing train services that thousands of passengers rely on every day. Several issues are currently preventing the introduction of the service: on top of timetabling constraints, rolling stock availability and stabling facilities are issues that need to be solved. I can assure my Rt Hon Friend the industry is working hard to resolve these and provide passengers in Maidstone with more frequent services to the City of London as soon as possible. I have had various meetings on this matter with all involved and understand how frustrating this delay is for residents of Maidstone, and other areas which will be served by this route. I will keep my Hon Friend up to date as solutions are found.

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