East Coast Main Line

Christmas warning as East Coast Main Line’s £1.2billion upgrade continues

Network Rail, Great Northern and Thameslink are reminding passengers who need to travel over the Christmas period to check their journeys to avoid disappointment, as major work takes place on the £1.2billion East Coast Upgrade, including a six-day closure at London King’s Cross and altered services up to and including Sunday 3 January.

People must follow the latest Government guidance over the Christmas period and stay at home or stay local to help tackle the spread of COVID-19. The new restrictions also mean that people should not travel into or out of London, which is now a Tier 4 area. 

Those who must travel on the East Coast Main Line should allow plenty of time as services which are running are expected to be busy, queuing systems may be in place at stations, and passengers may not be able to board the first train. Passengers can check how their journeys will be affected by visiting eastcoastupgrade.co.uk, www.thameslinkrailway.com or www.greatnorthernrail.com.

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Once complete, the East Coast Upgrade will transform journeys between London, Peterborough and Cambridge, as well as with the North of England and Scotland. It will bring a more modern, reliable railway for passengers and ensure the route has more capacity to deal with future passenger volumes.

  • Thursday 24 December 2020 – There will be a near normal service to and from London King’s Cross as Network Rail has postponed the start time of major work, although services will finish earlier in the evening, which is normal for Christmas Eve. Trains are expected to be very busy.
  • Friday 25 and Saturday 26 December 2020 – As usual on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, there will be no services running on the East Coast Main Line, and no alternative services will be provided.
  • Sunday 27 December 2020 – There will be no trains in or out of London King’s Cross and those Great Northern trains will start and finish at Finsbury Park instead. People who need to travel are advised to use London Underground services to and from Finsbury Park or alternative services in and out of Moorgate. Thameslink services to and from Cambridge will continue to serve St Pancras International.

Long-distance trains to and from the north will start and finish at Peterborough or Stevenage instead, and connecting Great Northern or Thameslink trains will run to and from Finsbury Park, St Pancras International or Moorgate. London Underground services will be available between central London and Finsbury Park on the Victoria and Piccadilly lines. Long distance passengers travelling north from London are advised to start their journey from either St Pancras International or Finsbury Park, which is expected to be very busy.

  • Monday 28 to Wednesday 30 December 2020 – There will be no trains in or out of London King’s Cross and those Great Northern trains will start and finish at Finsbury Park instead. People who need to travel are advised to use alternative services in or out of St Pancras International or Moorgate, or to use London Underground services to and from Finsbury Park.

Long distance services to and from the north will start and finish at Peterborough or Stevenage instead, and connecting Thameslink trains will run to and from St Pancras International. Long distance passengers travelling north from London are advised to start their journey from St Pancras International.

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  • Thursday 31 December 2020 to Sunday 3 January 2021 – There will be a reduced service to and from London King’s Cross. Trains are expected to be very busy.

Ed Akers, Principal Programme Sponsor for Network Rail’s East Coast Upgrade, said: “This six-day closure from Christmas Day is essential so we can reach a major milestone on the East Coast Upgrade, which once complete, will bring a more reliable railway for passengers and help meet future demand.

“We know people will want to spend time with their families if they can, but it’s essential that people follow the Government guidance and stay at home or stay local. If you have to travel over Christmas, please check your journey and plan ahead where possible to avoid disappointment.

“We want to thank passengers for their continued patience and understanding whist this essential work is carried out.”

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Thameslink and Great Northern Managing Director Tom Moran said: “With most of our network now under Tier 4 restrictions, people are being urged to stay at home. Those who have to travel should check carefully online before deciding to head for the train station. Our service will be affected throughout the Christmas period, returning to normal on Monday, 4 January. We’ll be busier too, helping LNER passengers connect with their trains at Stevenage and Peterborough.

“We’ve worked closely with our colleagues at Network Rail and the other train companies to prepare for this. Together, we’ve also advertised the changes widely on radio, social media, at our stations and in the press. Extra staff will be on hand to help people along the way and we have robust contingency plans in place.”

Between Christmas Day and Wednesday 30 December (inclusive), Network Rail teams will be reconstructing, strengthening and diverting Camden Sewer, which runs beneath the railway just outside King’s Cross. This complex part of the project, which involves lifting a large section of all the tracks that serve the station, can only be carried out safely when there are no trains running in the area for six days. New overhead line equipment will also be installed, as well as work to renew some of the tracks.

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Sam Hewitt

Let off some steam...