The Department for Transport (DfT) in the UK has agreed to defer the full introduction of the new £7bn Thameslink project in London by up to one year in order to reduce operational risks associated with the development.

The decision was taken after the National Audit Office published a report stating that the chosen Thameslink routes through London have the potential of delivering value for money but also include multiple risks.

Work under the DfT-sponsored project is being carried out in two phases by Network Rail, involving a total cost of £5.5bn.

"Work under the DfT-sponsored project is being carried out in two phases by Network Rail, involving a total cost of £5.5bn."

Phase one of the initiative was completed in 2011 at a cost of £2.4bn, while phase two began in 2013 and saw the installation of new track and signalling technology in central London.

Phase two also includes the re-development of London Bridge station, which is due to be completed in 2018.

Govia Thameslink will be responsible for the combined Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) franchise, including the maintenance and development of passenger services along the Thameslink routes.

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By GlobalData

Network Rail estimated last year that an additional investment of up to £900m would be required to carry out additional maintenance and renewal work to ensure smooth and reliable operations across the Thameslink network.

The acceptance of the network’s new trains is also noted to be behind schedule as Siemens, the rolling stock manufacturer, had faced difficulties finalising the vehicles’ onboard software.

However, Siemens and Govia Thameslink have addressed these issues and accelerated the trains’ acceptance in an effort to make up for lost time.

The project is expected to offer significant benefits for passengers from May next year, with more services to be introduced from December of the same year.

The final increase and improvement to the services is expected to occur in December 2019, which will see a total of 24 trains run through central London during peak hours.