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12-carriage tested on the Bedford to Brighton Thameslink route

A 50% longer, 12-carriage train has been tested on the Bedford to Brighton Thameslink route for the first time, giving passengers a glimpse of congestion-busting improvements to come.

First Capital Connect and Network Rail organised the test train on Sunday 3 October, which carried out stepping distance checks, levelling and heights of the train and newly-extended platforms.

Short platforms mean that today’s trains cannot be any longer than eight carriages. Network Rail is now halfway through its programme to extend platforms at 12 stations north of London on the Thameslink route and is upgrading power supplies to cope with the longer trains.

Farringdon station in central London is also being radically remodelled to accommodate the longer trains and Blackfriars station is undergoing a major redevelopment which will see it become the first station to span the River Thames.

The first 12-carriage trains will enter service in December 2011 with more expected in the years to follow as part of the final phase of the government’s £5.5bn congestion-busting Thameslink Programme.

First Capital Connect projects director David Statham said: “Seeing our first longer 12-carriage train in test was a great moment. The Thameslink route is one of the most overcrowded in the country and this gives us a glimpse of the relief that is on the way.

“From December next year we will be able to run our first longer trains. There are likely to be four in the morning and four in the evening running on our fast services between Bedford and Brighton. A new fleet of trains will then follow to allow us to ramp up the service significantly.”

Network Rail’s major programme director, Jim Crawford, said: “Britain relies on rail to get millions of people to and from work every day, which is why projects like the Thameslink upgrade are so vital to the economy. Seeing the first longer train in action is great news and shows how close we are to delivering on our promise of longer trains, more seats and better journeys for passengers.”

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