Thameslink improvements coming in stages

Project derisked: 24tph not till December 2019

A phased introduction is planned for the Thameslink Programme improvements to ensure operational robustness when the extra services are introduced. ‘A “Big Bang” is a bad idea’ Chris Gibb, independent chair of the Thameslink Industry Readiness Board, told Modern Railways. The former Virgin boss added: ‘I still bear the scars of “Operation Princess” and I am determined to avoid the same mistakes again’, referring to the upsets when Virgin reshaped the CrossCountry timetable in 2002.

Network Rail is on target to complete the remodelling of London Bridge in January 2018 and now the focus is on operating the new timetable. The idea behind the Industry Readiness Board’s plan is that operating staff should be made familiar with the new arrangements in stages, to allow new services to be bedded in gradually before additional changes are introduced. This will include running a small number of trains from the Great Northern route into the Thameslink core from April 2018 to build up driver and station familiarisation.

Around 70% of the capacity benefits will still be delivered in May 2018 when 18 trains per hour (tph) will operate through the core section between Blackfriars and St Pancras at peak times. In addition to the Thameslink changes, the full introduction of the new Southern timetable at the same time promises greater reliability, in particular on the metro routes.

Thameslink frequency will then be progressively ramped up, with 20tph introduced in December 2018, 22tph in May 2019 and finally the full 24tph service in December 2019. Traffic Management (TM), European Train Control System (ETCS) and Automatic Train Operation (ATO) for passenger trains will come in during 2018 as planned, but Mr Gibb says these are not essential until May 2019.

Mr Gibb praised industry partners who have co-operated on the Thameslink Industry Readiness Board, saying the Thameslink Programme was in a better place thanks to the constructive attitude displayed by all the operators concerned, along with Network Rail.

For full details of how the Thameslink service will be phased, plus a FREE 16-page supplement on the Thameslink Programme, see the December issue of Modern Railways, on sale on 23 November

RAAF to celebrate with WOW

Photo: RAAF Hawks in flight. Steve Zimmerman via WOW media team.

The Royal Australian Air Force has confirmed it will be bringing Hawk Jets and one of the new C-27J Spartan military transport aircraft to next Easter’s 30th Anniversary Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow in New Zealand.

Chief of the RAAF, Air Marshal Leo Davies, has no doubt that Warbirds Over Wanaka 2018 will continue New Zealand’s record of hosting excellent airshows.  “We’re again very pleased to be part of the celebrations of this consistently great event,” says Air Marshal Davies.  This airshow demonstrates the ongoing commitment and friendship between our two countries.  Since 1951, the ANZUS Treaty has strategically formalised our relationship.

“Warbirds Over Wanaka showcases elements of a modern air force. The C-27J Spartan has proven to be a big hit with enthusiasts across Australia and the sound and speed of the Hawk 127 is likely to be a highlight.”

Warbirds Over Wanaka General Manager Ed Taylor said it’s always great to have the Australian military perform at the event.  “The Hawks have been crowd favourites over the past few Airshows with the fast jet pilots putting on a thrilling display.  Next Easter we’re also going to have a display from the RAAF Spartan C-27J.  This aircraft will be making its Wanaka debut and visitors will get the chance to see it perform as well as have the opportunity to look through the aircraft on the ground.”

The RAAF has purchased ten of the Spartans at a cost of $US950million.  The first aircraft arrived in 2015.  The Spartan fleet is operated by 35 Squadron based at RAAF Richmond just outside Sydney.

The RAAF commitment to Wanaka follows news that the RNZAF will have a significant presence at Wanaka along with the French air force returning from New Caledonia.

“The public are going to have the opportunity to look through and chat with the crews of three relatively large military aircraft in the RNZAF Hercules, French Air Force CASA and the RAAF Spartan.  It’s a great chance for young and old alike to find out more about these aircraft from the people who fly them and also to find out first hand more about a possible military career,” said Ed.