please empty your brain below

I had planned to be on the first train from Peterborough yesterday, but childcare intervened. The new service offers lots of new options for me that avoid the tube!
Quite coincidentally I caught a Thameslink yesterday, though not one of these preview services so quite lacking in fragile cupcake provision! I went to have an explore of the new London Bridge station and, more importantly, see if I could find the underground passage noted in the Comments section of your Pedways blog. It still exists from Hays Galleria, but is now curtailed at Cottons Centre, no longer running all the way to No 1 London Bridge, if anyone’s interested?!
Hmm, thirty minutes to St Pancras from London Bridge? That’s progress I guess!
You won't have crossed 'the new bridge' at Borough Market, DG. It is the trains to and from Charing Cross that do that. You'd have followed the bridge that those CX services used to use, duly refurbed, to get to the new TL platforms at London Bridge.
@Brightside: you beat me to it!
Will this mean an increased frequency from Gatwick to Horsham? If so it will make the journey to this airport more accessible from Cheam, Ewell East and Epsom, etc., as now the journey involves the complex change at Dorking or the ramps at Selhurst with a further change at East Croydon.
The afternoon southbound Cambridge to Brighton arrived Finsbury Park 8 minutes late having lost its path and getting stuck behind a semi-fast train to Kings Cross. There’s not such generous padding on this journey so it toddled off towards Brighton from London Bridge still behind schedule.
As you say, timekeeping will be the bête noir of New Thameslink with potential for delays spreading over a vast part of the national rail network.
Crossrail deliberately avoided cross contamination between Liverpool Street and Paddington services, by not running trains end to end. Thameslink has the opposite philosophy, the upside is that most Great Northern surface stations will still get an alternative service from Kings Cross mainline or Moorgate, apart from Arlesey/Sandy and Meldreth/Shepreth/Foxton which are served by Thameslink trains only, Knebworth is only served by Kings Cross services northbound in the evening peak, the rest of the service is provided by Thameslink.
The padding is a temporary thing as the schedules are still planned around the Tulse Hill routing. It won't be possible to have 13-minute standstills when there is a train scheduled every 3 minutes or so.

The sensation of twisting and turning is enhanced by looking down the length of the train, which the walk-through arrangement makes very easy to do!

I was on that Cambridge train - in the presence of DG without even realising! The ten minute early arrival at London Bridge was very welcome as I was getting very cold waiting for the train in the snow!
Was looking forward to Finsbury Park to London Bridge but not at that journey time. Will this improve when permanent timetable introduced?

I don't think the frequency is likely to change: the Horsham - Peterborough services will be extensions of the existing Horsham - London Bridge services, not additional to them.
"Was looking forward to Finsbury Park to London Bridge but not at that journey time."

I really hope they manage to squeeze that down a bit. I was hoping to be able to visit friends in Turnpike Lane in an hour from Croydon with a direct service to Finsbury Park. But it's not looking to be any faster (though admittedly more convenient) than going to Victoria and tubing it.
Another great post - sounds like a slow day out!

I wasn't expecting to read about you going through Norwood Junction (the station nearest to where I was born and bred) and shopping in the Whitgift Centre (built on the site of where I went to senior school).

When it's up to full service, I will have to try part of that route to go to Palace games.
The future timings are visible on the Real Time Trains site and most trains have a 1 or 2 minute pause at London Bridge then get to St Pancras International 16 minutes later. With the distance you have to cover to get to the tube at London Bridge that will be pretty much unbeatable.
Thank you DG for noticing the absence of Women Who Love Railways. Many of us have not reached retirement age and were at work missing cupcakes.
As I understand it, the long waits at London Bridge are because the preview services are just two services in the existing timetable that have been linked up. They're not particularly indicative of how things will work in the final timetable.
Are the cupcakes still going today or was that just a first day thing?
Orpington isn't really a new destination, but peak hours only and only once in then evening....
Did you eat the cupcakes or are you saving them for posterity?
There were no cupcakes on the 1424 Cambridge (1511 Finsbury Park) - Brighton 1642 yesterday. 😞
Great article - I passed through LB yesterday morning and saw a couple of the trains displayed on the departure boards. Presumably the Whitgift Centre has reopened then - I thought it was closed for several years for redevelopment.

dg writes: The Whitgift Centre has not closed.
I always believe the new Thameslink service is going to be chaotic, and I always wonder how the ELL manage to have so many branches (with all but one sharing tracks with NR services) without messing up frequently.
I couldn't make the first train in the morning but did manage the second s/b one. There was a small cluster of MWLR and cakes were duly dispensed. The train was nearly 15 mins late but the run through the core was pretty decent even if there weren't many takers for this new service. We were held outside London Bridge as we were right behind a Bedford - Brighton service. Once clear of London Bridge we had a spritely run over the revised approach tracks and flyover. It's impressive to see the many years of work pretty much finished.

I, too, expected to go over a new viaduct at Borough Mkt but as pointed out TL doesn't do this. I shall have to dare to use South Eastern at some point to ride on the new alignment. I think the new timetables from May onwards will have far less padding and that will be the challenge - getting an intensve service to actually turn up on time and in the right sequence to avoid delays due to conflicting moves / occupied platforms. I can certainly see myself using the service from Finsbury Park southwards if it is quick and smooth as it mostly was yesterday.
Worth reiterating what "none" said earlier. These trains are scheduled to run either via Tulse Hill or London Bridge. As Tulse Hill is slower, the London Bridge trains have to hang around a bit. The real timetable will not have so much padding.
It is amusing to me that The Men Who like Railways are always identified as being 'other' when a significant proportion of this blog is dedicated to ... er railways.
drD beat me to it.. I'm also highly amused by the lack of self-identification with the "Men Who like Railways"
Like DG I, too, was on the 1059 from Finsbury Park to Horsham yesterday but not, I hasten to add, in car 1. The cupcakes were a nice touch, but I wonder how many were consumed by 'real passengers'.

As we approached Blackfriars there was much discussion and consulting of phones and laptops to decide whether it was better to change to the northbound train there, involving a dash across the Thames and back to get from Platform 1 to Platform 2, , or go on to London Bridge for a cross platform interchange from 4 to 5, provided the southbound train was not delayed. In the end it was a 50/50 split between the believers in Realtimetrains (who stayed on) and those who followed the red and green signals of Opentraintimes.
Perhaps a distinction needs to be drawn between Men who REALLY like Trains, who have their own websites and anoraks, and People who Quite Like Trains but like Many Other Things Too.

These latter do indeed form a substantial part of DG's readership, I guess. And so they should.
As others have pointed out this does seem a bit of an unnecessary gamble on the efficiency of the central route.

The potential for one signal failure or broken down train in the central section to wreck the Great Northern service as well as the existing Thameslink service seems quite high.

I hope they keep platform capacity to divert into Kings Cross as at present.
According to the timetable, it takes 25 minutes to get from New Cross Gate to London Bridge (both are departure times of course).

Wonder how long the same journey would take at a brisk jog.
What's the exact date that the original Thameslink services began? It's very close to the 30th anniversary I believe.
It was the May 1988 timetable change - May 16th to be precise.
Ah, @ Malcolm, you made me laugh, but DG going shopping at the Whitgift ....honestly! I've occasionally checked in there to note the changes and always leave saddened. The lovely bookshop that Sue Perkins used to work in is long gone.

If the Whitgift does ever completely close, Subterranea Britannica bods may find the labyrinthine connections underneath and between the blocks interesting. I once came across people working energetically either side of an underground corridor, complicated to access. They were separated from the walkway by secure floor to ceiling plexiglass. I presumed they usually worked at that pace but maybe my presence triggering the lights prompted the fury?
I used to work in Train Planning. There's no "devilry", it's trying to get a train to take a path South of the river, with a path North of the river in the EXISTING timetables. This will not be the case in May, when a large recasting takes place, including Bedford to Brighton trains being timetabled to run via London Bridge once again.
How would you have pathed it differently?

I personally announce that we have "standing time" rather than "running early".

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