Reigate will lose its direct London Bridge service from May 2018, but it looks as though there’ll be a twice-hourly direct Victoria service in both peak and off-peak hours.
The current London Bridge services won’t be able to run from the station, as the platforms are too short for the new fixed 12-car Thameslink trains that will operate the route.
In a consultation last year, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) set out options on how to replace these commuter services: a direct service to Victoria with an attachment of more carriages at Redhill, or a regular Reigate-Redhill shuttle service.
Phil Hutchinson, Head of Strategic Planning for GTR, spoke at the Reigate, Redhill & District Rail Users’ Association AGM on Thursday. He said the company had met with the passenger group and discussed the possible solutions:
“The option that was chosen to take forward at that time was a Gatwick Airport/Reigate half-hourly service to London Victoria.”
Reigate passengers will also still be able to use GWR’s east-west service to access Redhill’s London Bridge services.
Mr Hutchinson said that the GWR trains were a factor in discarding the Redhill shuttle idea:
“When we came to look at the detail of [the shuttle], particularly how the new Great Western service would operate, the best we could ever do was a half-hourly service.”
He said that meant the shuttle option wouldn’t have been of benefit.
Mr Hutchinson said journey times from Reigate were expected to be 45 minutes to Victoria (direct) and 48 minutes to London Bridge (including a change at Redhill or East Croydon). However, these are subject to confirmation.
How easy it will be to change at Redhill remains unclear. Platform 1 will become a bay platform, while platforms 2 and the new “0” will be used for London trains. A number of Reigate passengers changing onto London Bridge services at Redhill will therefore have to use the busy underpass, although how many depends on how planners allocate the platforms.
From Redhill, as plans currently stand, there will be six trains per hour to London: two Victoria services (including the portions from Reigate), and four Thameslink services to Bedford or Peterborough, via London Bridge and central London.
The longer Thameslink trains, and additional Southern carriages, will provide increased capacity.
The twice-hourly direct service from Reigate to Victoria is expected to run through the daytime. In the evenings, and Sundays, an improved service over what is currently available is also expected.
In the longer term, GTR has made clear that it supports Network Rail’s proposal to build a new platform 3 at Reigate to once again allow direct London Bridge services. If funding became available, the next window for the project could be 2019 – 2024.
Mr Hutchinson reiterated GTR’s support for the scheme:
“Reigate really does need a twelve-carriage platform.
That will mean, if that infrastructure is provided and funded, that we can run direct trains to and from London as part of the Thameslink network.
And that’s something we would be pushing to do, to allow a Thameslink all-day service to be provided there.
The number of passengers who use Reigate and choose to go to London Bridge is more than those who choose to go to London Victoria.”
He also explained that it wasn’t possible to open only some doors on the longer Thameslink trains at Reigate, as an alternative. He said their longer fixed formation on the existing layout would mean overhanging the level crossing, causing traffic issues.
At the meeting Mr Hutchinson also confirmed that capacity constraints at East Croydon, and the reduction in terminating platforms at London Bridge, would prevent the running of a temporary extra “Southern” service between Reigate and London Bridge.
More details of the Thameslink plans, including proposed timings, will be published in the second phase of the consultation, along with the results of last year’s phase one.
That will be this May or June, a year ahead of the new timetable, to allow discussion.
Consultation webpage (now closed)
Edited for clarity 23:08 4 April 2017