Cutting the 'Wimbledon Loop' would affect several Merton stations.
Following Network Rail’s plans to cut the direct Thameslink rail link between south London, the City and central London (known as the ‘Wimbledon loop’), Merton’s Liberal Democrats have launched the “Save our Thameslink” petition.
The Thameslink Programme Team at the Department for Transport have recently responded to questions from local campaigners:
The proposal that Wimbledon Loop services should be amongst the eight trains that terminate at Blackfriars was included in Network Rail’s South London Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) . . .
However RUS recommendations are not binding on the Government and many are never actually implemented. No decision has yet been made on whether to accept Network Rail’s proposal on the Wimbledon Loop.
I have been advised that Network Rail’s rationale here is operational. They currently believe that Thameslink will only operate reliably if trains have a run that is as clear as possible on their approaches to the central London section. However, it is by no means clear as to whether Network Rail’s recommended course of action for Wimbledon Loop services is actually necessary for a reliable Thameslink.
Network Rail is about to start an exercise to construct a ‘feasibility’ timetable for the delivery of the full twenty-four trains per hour Thameslink specification.
Once this is complete, it will be possible to judge whether the crossing movements at the south end of Blackfriars station are as constricting as Network Rail claim in the RUS.
A decision on the future of Wimbledon Loop services is therefore still some way off. It will not be made until after a public consultation.