London’s railway is finally joined up

IN the mid-nineteenth century the railway was banned from building lines and stations into the City and the West End by a Royal Commission. The effect of that decision is still felt today and – with the exception of the very busy original Thameslink route – we currently have no real cross London rail links and a capital sorely in need of additional rail capacity.

So for thousands of London commuters yesterday’s news that the final phase of the Thameslink Programme has joined Crossrail on the government’s will-do list is very good news indeed.

Together an upgraded north-south Thameslink network and the east-west Crossrail will provide the capacity and services that the capital and its passengers badly need.

We’d all like a commute that takes us straight from our home station to our destination – no changes with none of the stress that connecting services all too often seem to induce.

Both Thameslink and Crossrail will help deliver that aspiration for many thousands of passengers with new and longer trains to a wider choice of destinations – reducing the need for passengers to change trains or transfer to the Tube.

Travellers will see some benefits from the Thameslink Programme very soon with new and better stations at Farringdon and Blackfriars and the first 12 car trains running on the existing Bedford to Brighton route by the end of 2011.

London will finally benefit from an integrated cross city railway. An improvement that will last beyond all our lifetimes, which will stand as a legacy for future generations.

• Rick Haythornthwaite is chairman of Network Rail