Thameslink Cricklewood

UK rail infrastructure manager Network Rail (NR) has opened a new £40m railway cleaning facility in Cricklewood, north London, as part of the government-sponsored Thameslink Programme.

The new yard is already cleaning trains on the Thameslink route between Bedford, London and Brighton.

When introduced later this year, Thameslink’s new Class 700 trains will also use the new facility, which will play a major part in running the programme’s new intensive train service.

Network Rail Thameslink Programme director Simon Blanchflower said: "Everything the Thameslink Programme does is about improving journeys for passengers and this new facility will make a real difference.

"The facility is state-of-the-art and a credit to Network Rail and the Thameslink Programme team."

"We have turned a disused piece of railway land into a first-class railway facility that will play a crucial part in what will be one of the country’s most intensive main line train services."

Designed to accommodate 22 trains at a time, the new facility was built by contractors Carillion with site operator Thameslink and Network Rail, on the site of disused rail lines close to the existing depot.

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The facility will comprise a new train wash, toilet emptying facilities and walkways for staff to remove rubbish from trains.

Network Rail noted that once the Thameslink Programme introduces a 24 trains an hour service from Blackfriars to St Pancras International in 2018, it is expected that staff at the Cricklewood sidings will remove one tonne of rubbish from trains every day.

Govia Thameslink Railway projects director Keith Wallace said: "These sidings are a crucial part of our plans to modernise Thameslink services to give our passengers new, spacious trains starting this spring and, from 2018, more frequent services at all our stations between Bedford and London.

"The facility is state-of-the-art and a credit to Network Rail and the Thameslink Programme team. Our 26 staff on-site are already using them to keep trains clean."

Being built by Siemens, the Thameslink’s new Class 700 trains will run an intensive service to and through London from locations such as Bedford, Peterborough and Cambridge in the north, as well as Brighton and Gatwick in the south.

Image: Thameslink Cricklewood sidings. Photo: courtesy of Network Rail.