The Thameslink Programme is a highly complex investment in infrastructure, trains and new services for passengers. The delivery of the programme has progressed well since we examined it in 2013, but there are still substantial challenges that will need to be carefully managed to ensure that the programme as a whole is delivered successfully.
The Department for Transport (the Department) has now announced that it is delaying the full introduction of the new services by a year, to December 2019, to reduce the risks of disruption to passengers. The Department and Network Rail must ensure that the Thameslink programme does not suffer from further delays. The Department and Network Rail have been slow to appreciate the importance of early planning for how the new services will operate, and how they will organise the rail industry to do this. The discovery that another £900 million of maintenance work is necessary to deliver reliable Thameslink services also raises concerns about Network Rail’s understanding of the performance and condition of the network. Whilst we acknowledge that the programme has progressed, this is yet another example of a rail project which has been delayed and will cost the taxpayer more than originally expected.
21 February 2018