Government gives planning consent for expanded railway but funding is still not in place

The £3.5bn Thameslink project took a big step forward toady after two government departments grant planning permission to Network Rail to rebuild the route.

The Department for Transport and the Department for Communities and Local Government today gave planning permission for the scheme, which is expected to more than double passenger capacity on the route.

John Armitt, Network Rail’s chief executive, said: “This is a landmark decision that underlines growing confidence in Network Rail to deliver major improvements on Britain’s railways.”

The last hurdle for the project is funding. Network Rail will work with DfT as it seeks to set up a funding package.

The original proposals for the Thameslink project were submitted in 1997. In 2000 they were subject to a year-long public inquiry. The planning inspector submitted a report to government departments in December.