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Major changes to rail services between Bedford and London

£7bn is being invested in transforming the Thameslink programme, alongside the biggest upgrade of the Midland Main Line since it was completed in 1870.

  • £7bn Thameslink programme delivers transformational timetable change in May 2018
  • Over 2,100 extra peak-time Thameslink seats at Bedford and over 3,400 from Luton each morning
  • Changes on East Midlands Trains services to/from Bedford and Luton to enable successful introduction of new Thameslink timetable
  • New fast peak-time GTR services for Bedford and Luton from May 2018

As part of the Government-sponsored Thameslink programme, a brand new timetable will be introduced in May 2018. This represents one of the biggest timetable recasts in recent railway history. It will provide many extra peak-time seats, improved journey times and better connections on GTR (Govia Thameslink) services from Bedford to Farringdon, for Crossrail when it opens, as well as to London Bridge and further south.

Work has also started on the transformation of the Midland Main Line which will deliver the biggest upgrade of this line in almost 150 years, bringing better journeys for customers and representing an investment of over £1billion. The Department for Transport has proposed in its consultation on the next East Midlands franchise that this extra capacity is used to deliver more seats on fast, direct services between Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough, Bedford, Luton, Luton Airport Parkway and London St Pancras with longer, quieter, comfortable and more efficient trains.

Detailed planning has been taking place over several months across the rail industry to ensure the new Thameslink timetable can be successfully introduced. East Midlands Trains and Govia Thameslink Railway have announced some changes needed to the May 2018 East Midlands Trains timetable due to the increased number of Govia Thameslink Railway trains needing to operate on the shared network between Bedford and London. These changes will be in place until the completion of the Midland Main Line upgrade programme in 2020.

From the timetable change on 20 May 2018 until the completion of the Midland Main Line Upgrade in 2020, East Midlands Trains peak-time services will no longer call at Bedford or Luton. Direct East Midlands Trains rail services will continue to run from Leicestershire and Northamptonshire to London, and will continue to call at Luton Airport Parkway throughout the day. Off-peak and weekend services will continue to call at Bedford and Luton.

Seven Govia Thameslink Railway services per hour will continue to run between Bedford, Luton and London during the three-hour morning and evening peaks. To ensure that passengers from Bedford continue to benefit from faster trains, two of these trains each hour will become fast services calling only at Bedford, Luton, St Albans and London St Pancras, with a journey time of around 45 minutes. From May 2018, many trains will be longer with over 2,100 more seats at Bedford and over 3,400 at Luton in the morning peak.

In addition to the new fast services and as part of its longer term plans, East Midlands Trains is working with the Department for Transport to explore the feasibility of securing extra trains which could allow the future introduction of a dedicated peak-time service for Bedford customers.

Customers using East Midlands Trains services to commute from Leicestershire and Northamptonshire to Bedford during peak hours will be provided with an alternative, fully accessible coach service that will connect with rail services at Wellingborough. This will run hourly between Wellingborough and Bedford and any monthly or annual season ticket holders using the replacement coach service will be eligible for a 50% discount on their season ticket. Customers are advised to contact East Midlands trains directly for further information.

A copy of the new timetable will be available during February 2018.