The Thameslink Programme took another significant step forward today with the reopening of Blackfriars rail station to passengers, after a highly complicated package of work was completed over the last eight weeks to deliver major capacity enhancements.
Passengers were given first glimpse of the new track layout, which will allow more services to run to and through central London in the future, plus the nearly completed new roof and extended 12-carriage platforms spanning the Thames, with the latter enhancement enabling the first 50% longer trains to call there from December 2011.
Network Rail and construction partner Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Limited completed on time during challenging weather conditions a complex programme of engineering work that saw the station temporarily closed to passengers from 20 November 2010.
During the eight-week closure more than 1200 people together invested over 400,000 man hours in activities such as demolition, bridge deck weather proofing, roof framework erection, the laying of track plus the installation of new signalling, telecoms and passenger information systems. A key activity at this time was the track switch during the planned Christmas possession from 24 December 2010. Here the construction team worked around the clock to switch the running rail tracks, signals and other related infrastructure from the west side of the bridge to the east.
The track switch represents a key milestone in the landmark Blackfriars station redevelopment. It allows Network Rail to rebuild the western side of the rail bridge, strengthening it with a new bridge deck and then widening it with three new rows of rib arches to support two new bay platforms above that will accommodate longer terminating 12 carriage trains.
Jim Crawford, Network Rail major programme director Thameslink, said: “The reopening of Blackfriars station is a significant achievement, considering the importance of this to the route and the incredible amount of complex work that took place over the last eight weeks.
“The new track layout, extended platforms and roof spanning the Thames help bring to life for passengers the benefits the station and the Thameslink Programme deliver. Across the entire programme over the next 12 months there is still a lot of work to be done, as we continue with enhancements and upgrades along the route.”
Michelle Smart, customer service director for First Capital Connect which manages the station and operates the Thameslink route, said: “Passengers alighting at Blackfriars now have the first glimpse of the new platforms of this thrilling new station that is being built to accommodate our future capacity-enhancing 12-carriage trains.
“Network Rail has done well to complete this part of the project on time and I want to thank our customers for their patience during the eight-week closure.”
Blackfriars London Underground station will remain closed until late 2011.