A major milestone in the Thameslink programme which will ultimately allow more frequent trains to run between Blackfriars and St Pancras was achieved recently with the commissioning of the first part of the major resignalling work.

The work involved redesigning and modernising the signalling through the central London core to enable the more frequent, metro-style service that the Thameslink programme will deliver.

This first 10-month phase of the work, between Kentish Town and Farringdon, has taken 320,000 man-hours – on average 1,100 man-hours per day – and was completed in 39 weekend line closures to keep passenger disruption to a minimum.

Martin Chatfield, Network Rail’s senior programme manager on the Thameslink programme:

“We’ve been installing and testing the new kit for a while now, but this weekend was crunch time, when the old system turned off and the new one brought into full use.

“It was a considerable technical challenge, but careful planning and some fantastic expertise in the team and on the ground paid off.”

The longer services are due to start running in December this year, with major station redevelopments complete by Summer 2012.

The congestion-busting Thameslink programme allows longer, more frequent passenger services to run north-south to and through London.

The first phase of the programme will be finished in 2012 and sees the complete redevelopment of Blackfriars and Farringdon stations in central London, and platform lengthening, resignalling and power upgrades along the Thameslink route.

The second phase includes the redevelopment of London Bridge station, and the complete remodelling of the track and signalling systems to allow the service to increase to up to 24 trains per hour. It will begin in 2013 and is due for completion in 2018.