£3.5 billion project cheers commuters

PUBLISHED: 09:46 09 November 2006 | UPDATED: 11:11 06 May 2010

A £3.5 billion pound project to connect Comet country train passengers directly to Gatwick Airport and other London areas is being discussed for 2012. Thameslink wants to update the existing 150-year-old rail system by opening new links, trains and servic

A £3.5 billion pound project to connect Comet country train passengers directly to Gatwick Airport and other London areas is being discussed for 2012.

Thameslink wants to update the existing 150-year-old rail system by opening new links, trains and services to aid quick, hassle-free travel.

The new rail link will connect commuters straight into parts of London such as Blackfriars, Farringdon and London Bridge. It will cut down on changing trains and for some passengers could eliminate the need to transfer onto London Underground.

Overcrowding will also be reduced as trains will have more carriages, up from eight to 12, guaranteeing commuters a seat for the entire journey. There are also plans to run more trains in peak periods, upping the current eight to 24.

John Armitt, Network Rail's Chief Executive, said: "We are now one step closer to getting the green light for an essential congestion-beating rail project on one of the busiest parts of our network."

The project will introduce more routes and stops, simplify the track and upgrade signals. The new link would serve 172 stations as opposed to 51 at the moment.

There are also plans for an 'Olympic Javelin' service from King's Cross Station to Stratford for sports lovers.

Funding for the project has yet to be agreed but the Secretary of State for Transport and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has granted legal powers and planning consents to Network Rail for the cost of the project.

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