Changes to train times


Major improvement works taking place in 2018

Over the coming months, there will be a number of major improvement works taking place across the rail network, including in and around London.

Please find below our detailed overview on the following key railway improvement projects:


Thameslink Programme

The new London Bridge Station is almost complete, following a five year rebuild completed in phases to allow the station to remain open throughout construction. Since 2 January 2018 passengers are benefiting from a bigger and better station with new platforms for more trains, a new concourse and better connections.

The fully completed station will be modern, spacious and fully accessible – fit for the twenty-first century. There is still be work to do in the station throughout 2018 but this will be completed during evenings and weekends, rather than working days. New shops, cafes and leisure facilities will open later this year, fuelling the re-invigoration of the area and improving the experiences of passengers every time they travel.

From May 2018, the following changes will be made:

  • Thameslink services will return to London Bridge for the first time in over three years
  • A new Thameslink timetable will be introduced, which will increase the current provision through the Central London 'core' (London St Pancras International to Blackfriars) to 18 trains per hour
  • To fit more trains on to the same amount of track during weekdays, East Midlands Trains southbound trains arriving into London St Pancras between 07:00 and 10:00, and northbound services departing London St Pancras between 16:00 and 19:00 will not call at Bedford or Luton. Thameslink will be running some fast services calling only at Bedford, Luton, St Albans and London St Pancras with a journey time of around 45 minutes. Details of the full impact for East Midlands Trains customers can be found here.
  • The Thameslink network will be expanded massively in May, connecting Peterborough and Cambridge into the north-south, cross-London route, transforming the journeys for thousands of people. In fact, from 26 February, six off-peak Great Northern services will operate through the new tunnels linking Finsbury Park and London St Pancras International. Most of these trains will replace existing Great Northern or Thameslink services so there will be some changes to the service shown in the timetables - more details are available here.


Elizabeth Line

The Elizabeth line will transform travel across London, boosting the economy by billions of pounds and supporting thousands of new jobs and homes. The line, currently being constructed by Crossrail, will be named after the UK's longest serving monarch when it becomes operational in 2018.

Stretching over 60 miles from Reading and Heathrow Airport to the west of London across to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, the Elizabeth line will stop at 40 accessible stations - 10 newly built and 30 newly upgraded - and serve approximately 200 million people each year.

A fleet of 66 new 200 metre long trains built in the United Kingdom will run on the Elizabeth line, featuring nine walk-through carriages, air conditioning, CCTV and live travel information. Each train will be able to carry up to 1,500 people.

The Elizabeth line opening plan is listed below: 

  • May 2018 - TfL Rail service opens between London Paddington and Heathrow, replacing the existing Heathrow Connect service and part of the Great Western Railway inner suburban service. The Heathrow Express service runs as normal.
  • December 2018 - The Elizabeth line opens. Three separate services will run - between London Paddington and Abbey Wood, between London Liverpool Street and Shenfield, and between London Paddington and Heathrow Airport.
  • May 2019 - The Elizabeth line through service extends to run between Shenfield and London Paddington, and between Abbey Wood and London Paddington. Services from London Paddington to Heathrow Airport will continue to start and terminate in the National Rail station.
  • December 2019 - The Elizabeth line is fully open, with services running from Reading and Heathrow Airport in the west through the central tunnels to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.


High Speed Two (HS2)

High Speed Two, mostly referred to as simply HS2, is the planned £56 billion rail network between London, the West Midlands and the North

The first phase (construction from now to 2026) will link London Euston and Birmingham, while the Y-shaped second phase (2026 to 2033) will link Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to Leeds. By the time both phases are finished in 2033 there will be 350 miles of new track.

Trains will run on the new lines at speeds of up to 250 mph. Each train will be 400 metres long and will carry up to 1,100 customers. There will be up to 14 trains per hour in each direction.

The first HS2 phase includes a revamp and expansion of London Euston station, there will be a new Old Oak Common station in west London, and two new Birmingham stations at Curzon and Interchange. Preparatory work on Phase One is underway, with major construction work beginning in 2018.

Tram Train pilot scheme

The Tram Train scheme is unique in the UK. It will link heavy and light rail infrastructure, systems and operations together to provide a new transport service.

South Yorkshire’s new Citylink tram train vehicles were introduced in the regular Supertram timetable from October 2017 to support the existing tram service across the network. The new tram train route from Sheffield to Rotherham is expected to open in 2018, once rail infrastructure work, testing and driver training is complete. The Citylink vehicles will then be used across the route.

The Tram Train pilot will help the rail industry understand and assess the technical issues involved with planning and operating the service. It will be the first time a Tram Train system has operated in the UK.

Scheduled to start in 2018, Tram Trains will run on the national rail network from a new Rotherham Parkgate Retail Park station via a new tram stop at the existing Rotherham Central station. They will then join the existing Stagecoach Supertram network at Meadowhall South (via a new 400 metre rail line called the Tinsley Chord) and continue to Sheffield city centre.

The Tram Train pilot will run for two years with a view to permanent operation. Learning gained from the pilot will help determine whether Tram Trains can run in other parts of the country. More information on this pioneering project can be found here.

Preston to Blackpool

The 17 mile route between Preston and Blackpool North is being fully electrified, paving the way for better trains with more seats. The track layout and signalling equipment will be modernised to reduce delays and improve performance.

Work includes the replacement of 84 signals and moving the signalling control to the Manchester rail operating centre. Blackpool North and Kirkham & Wesham stations will be remodelled as part of the plans to simplify the current layout of the railway.

The first phase of the improvement work, between Blackpool South and Preston is complete, and the line reopened on Monday 29 January.

Work to upgrade and electrify Blackpool North line continues until 25 March, while the remaining overhead equipment, tracks, drainage and signalling equipment is installed. Buses will replace trains.

Derby track and signalling upgrade

Derby station itself was modernised in 2013. But the existing track layout has not been improved since it was installed nearly 50 years ago, and is nearing the end of its operational life, whilst the signalling has not been upgraded since it was installed in the 1960s.

The historic layout of the railway has become inefficient as use of the railway has grown, and now often results in lengthy waiting times for trains outside the station. The existing bottlenecks also restrict the movements that trains can make and the platforms they can access. As the track and signalling work together to manage train movements efficiently, they are both being replaced and upgraded at the same time.

Network Rail, and industry partners CrossCountry and East Midlands Trains (who manage the station), have announced that the track and signalling in the area around Derby station will be enhanced during 79 days of carefully planned engineering, starting on 22 July 2018.

There will be significant changes to the timetable between 22 July 2018 and 7 October 2018. East Midlands Trains services to London, Crewe, Matlock and Nottingham will be affected at various points of the work. CrossCountry services will divert around Derby, with a bus replacement service from Derby to connecting stations.

Network Rail, which will be carrying out the work, said that Derby rail users will get the long-term benefit once the project is complete.

More details are now available at, and if you would like to follow this improvement work on Twitter, please use #DBY2018

Bristol Temple Meads re-signalling

Bristol Temple Meads re-signalling work is scheduled for Easter, and is the largest re-signalling project ever undertaken by Network Rail. It will help to ensure the continued safe operation of the railway, improve train reliability, and will enable a significant increase in rail services.







Up to 500 people will be working at Bristol Temple Meads and the surrounding areas, to bring 500 pieces of complex signalling equipment online.

No trains will call at Bristol Temple Meads from Friday 30 March (Good Friday) until the service is restored on the morning of Wednesday 4 April. Buses will replace trains and some journey times may be longer than normal as a result.

Brighton Main Line rail improvement project

Brighton Main Line rail improvement project work will take place in October 2018 and February 2019, and is a key part of a £300m government-funded programme to tackle delay hotspots and boost the reliability of the railway in the south east. The work being carried out will cut delays and provide a better, more reliable rail service to the 300,000 passengers who travel on the Brighton Main Line each day.

From Saturday 20 to Sunday 28 October 2018 and from Saturday 16 to Sunday 24 February 2019, no trains will run between Three Bridges and Brighton, or between Three Bridges and Lewes.

The unprecedented access provided by these planned closures will allow Network Rail engineers to renew and upgrade a stretch of railway that is responsible for more delays to Southern and Thameslink passengers than any other.

The improvement work will focus on four Victorian-era tunnels – Balcombe, Clayton, Patcham and Haywards Heath – and the railway which runs through them. A major programme to stem leaks into the tunnels and provide reliable drainage away from the tracks will take place, while the track, third rail power system and signalling will all be replaced or upgraded. Elsewhere, track will be renewed, sets of points, which enable trains to switch between tracks, will be replaced and fencing will be improved to deter trespassers. Without this programme of work, reliability on the Brighton Main Line will deteriorate in the months and years ahead, leading to more delays for passengers travelling between London and the south coast.

The closures have been carefully planned for school half-terms, when passenger numbers are lower and some people may be able to be more flexible with their travel plans or take holiday. Passengers wishing to travel on these dates will need to allow considerably more time for their journeys and should expect to use either diverted trains via longer routes or a replacement bus or coach to connect with rail services.


Details of planned engineering work for approximately the next 12 weeks is available on our Future Engineering Work page.

The Network Rail website is the source of a lot of the above, and it contains some really interesting information on railway improvement works.


Last updated:   21 February 2018