Direct rail link to airport is trialled ahead of summer rollout

Huntingdon railway station. Picture: ARCHANT

Huntingdon railway station. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Air passengers flying from Gatwick can now get trains directly to the airport from Huntingdon railway station.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has launched “preview” services on Thameslink, through new London tunnels, to prove the route ahead of a full service being introduced in May.

At present there are two services between Peterborough and Horsham, via Gatwick, which leave Huntingdon at 10am and 1.31pm, arriving at 12.17 and 15.47. There are also two trains travelling in the opposite direction.

A service between Cambridge and Brighton offers one train travelling in each direction at present.

A spokesman for GTR said that when the full service starts in May, there will be space for 40,000 more passengers during peak period into London, delivering a “much-needed” capacity boost for the network.

“From Peterborough, Huntingdon and St Neots, by the time the programme is complete, essentially by December this year, there will be almost a third more carriages with over 1,200 more seats (over 20 per cent more), from these stations in to London in the morning rush,” the spokesman said.

He said from May there would be new direct services to St Pancras International, Farringdon, City Thameslink, Blackfriars and London Bridge.

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Simon Blanchflower, Network Rail’s Thameslink Programme Director, said: “Opening the tunnels for passenger trains between the East Coast Mainline and Thameslink at St Pancras International is a great achievement. It marks the final major infrastructure piece in the jigsaw that opens up the full future Thameslink network and its north south travel opportunities across London.”

Nick Brown, Chief Operating Officer of GTR which runs Thameslink, Southern Great Northern and Gatwick Express, said: “This is a landmark moment and shows that GTR is delivering on its promise to give passengers a new, high-intensity service to a greatly expanded network of stations. We are massively boosting capacity for 40,000 more passengers each weekday peak this May, rising to 60,000 next year.

“As part of our RailPlan 20/20 modernisation plans, we are building on the foundations laid by the Government-sponsored Thameslink Programme to increase capacity and reliability on Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern – Britain’s most congested railway. This incorporates modernised infrastructure, trains and technology and working practices.”

Capacity will increase again to 60,000 in 2019.