The Anonymous Widower

What Will Be The Service On The Great Northern Lines After Thameslink Opens?

When I did the short trip from Essex Road station on the Northern City Line, that I wrote about in Never On Sunday, I was surprised to see that the frequency of the service was Transport for London’s turn-up-and-go frequency of 4 trains per hour (tph), with 2 tph to going to Hertford North, with 1 tph extended to Stevenage and 2 tph to Welwyn Garden City.

The services at Essex Road station in the Off Peak include these trains.

It is interesting to note that between 0800 and 0900 on a weekday morning, thirteen trains arrive at Moorgate.

From 2018, the new Class 717 trains will start to run on the Northern City Line. The number of passengers on this line will surely grow as the Southern terminus of Moorgate station will be on Crossrail from December 2018.

Assuming these six-car Class 717 trains can carry about half that of a 12-car  Class 700 train, then in that hour they could bring 4,329 passengers into Moorgate station.

Will the low-level platforms at Moorgate station be able to cope?

Probably easily, if there is a direct tunnel and escalator access to Crossrail.

This map from shows the various lines at Moorgate.




  • The Northern City Line is superimposed on top of the Northern Line at Moorgate station.
  • The 200 m. long Crossrail platforms almost stretch between Moorgate and Liverpool Street stations.
  • Interchange between the Northern Line at Moorgate and the Central Line will probably be a three hundred metre walk.
  • Crossrail should mean that all Liverpool Street to Moorgate interchanges will be desert dry in the wettest weather.

If this massive interchange doesn’t create a need for more capacity on the Northern City Line, I’ll be very surprised.

As there have been improvements to the lines on the Great Northern Route, between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace stations, I wouldn’t be surprised that when Crossrail opens, this Cinderella line, that nobody wanted is running eight, ten or even more tph between Moorgate and Finsbury Park stations and further up the route.

The services on the Great Northern Route are intense, but despite that, the route has some of the most crowded trains in the UK..

Thameslink is coming and that will change everything dramatically.

At present Cambridge has 4 tph to Kings Cross in the Off Peak, of which two tph are non-stop Cambridge Cruisers.

When Thameslink connects to Cambridge, the provisional timetable says it will add 4 tph semi-fast trains between St. Pancras Thameslink and Cambridge.

Thameslink haven’t said what services they will retain between Kings Cross and Cambridge, but I did read somewhere that they want to hold on to the Class 387 trains to run the Cambridge Cruisers.

At present, Peterborough has 2 tph Great Northern services to Kings Cross, in addition to several non-stop expresses.

As with Cambridge, Peterborough will get an additional 4 tph, when Thameslink opens.

I think the outcome will be lots of direct services between Cambridge or Peterborough in the North and Kings Cross or St. Pancras Thameslink in the South.

If you are prepared to change just once, you’ll be able to travel between any station North of Finsbury Park to any of the three London terminals; Kings Cross, Moorgate and St. Pancras Thameslink.

I believe that because Thameslink has such a large number of stations and connections, that many passengers will have a wide choice of route.

There is also the performance and quality of the various trains on the routes to consider.

A succession of 100 mph plus trains speeding up and down the Great Northern Route won’t be a slower service than is currently offered.

There would probably be four semi-fast trains to and from both Northern destinsations, stopping at all major stations, with well-connected stopping trains serving the intermediate stations.

There might even be service patterns like say four tph between Moorgate and Welwyn Garden City stopping at all stations, which have a same platform interchange with four tph stopping services to Cambridge and Peterborough. So from say Foxton to New Barnet, you’d always change at Welwyn Garden City.

As an example of how the new improved Thanmeslink will help passengers, look at the routes from my home to Cambridge.

I could.

  1. Take a 277 bus to Highbury and Islington station and get a Victoria Line train to St. Pancras for a Thameslink train to Cambridge.
  2. Take a 38 bus or walk to Essex Road station and get a Northern City Line train to Finsbury Park for a Thameslink train to Cambridge.
  3. Take a 141 bus to Moorgate station and get a Northern City Line train to Finsbury Park for a Thameslink train to Cambridge.
  4. Take a 277 bus or walk to Highbury and Islington station and get a Northern City Line train to Finsbury Park for a Thameslink train to Cambridge.
  5. Take a 30 bus to Kings Cross station and get a Cambridge Cruiser to Cambridge.

The possibilities will be endless.

I wouldn’t take the first option, as St. Pancras is A Fur Coat And No Knicker Station, with a long walk between the Victoria Line and Thameslink.

My choice of route, will probably be decided by the first bus that arrives and the quality of the smile on the driver’s face.




June 12, 2016 - Posted by | Transport | , , , ,

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