First planned closure of East Coast Main Line in 20 years is fast approaching

Manchester Metrolink tram interior seats subway train
Manchester Metrolink tram interior seats subway train United Kingdom

Network Rail and train operators are reminding passengers of major changes to services this August Bank Holiday as work takes place as part of a £1.2billion upgrade to the route.

In just over a month, work will take place along the southern end of the historic route, including in Newark, Stevenage and around London King’s Cross station. This work will close the lines from Peterborough and Cambridge into London King’s Cross and London St Pancras International meaning no trains will run on this portion of the line.

Passengers are being reminded that there will be significant disruption and are urged not to travel on services which start or terminate in the capital on August 24/25.

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Instead, the advice is to travel on either Friday, August 23 or Tuesday, August 27. There will be a heavily reduced service on Monday, August 26 as work at Newark continues, with trains expected to be extremely busy.

If passengers are unable to bring forward or delay their journey, they are being urged to plan ahead and allow additional time for their journey as there will be no direct services to/from London. Instead, they will need to use bus replacement services and/or change trains. Bus replacement services and trains on other routes to/from London and expected to be incredibly busy.

The East Coast Upgrade is the biggest investment into the line in a generation and will bring significant benefits for all users of the route, including quicker journeys which are more reliable and up to an extra 10,000 seats per day. It will also mean more services able to run, increasing choice for passengers. Over the August Bank Holiday, a huge amount of work will take place, including:

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  • At London King’s Cross, Network Rail will transfer control of signalling equipment from King’s Cross signal box to a state-of-the-art facility in York. This will create a more modern and reliable railway, which is more resilient in times of disruption. We will also carry out work on the overhead line equipment outside of the station to support improvements to the power supply, track layout and signals.
  • In Stevenage, work will continue on a major project to construct an additional platform to support increased services along the route.
  • Network Rail is renewing a level crossing in Newark which is of unique design and historically, has had to be renewed every 15-20 years. Engineers will replace timbers with a more durable material, which will provide a more reliable railway and greatly reduce the amount of times we need to carry out work in the future.

The work over the bank holiday has been carefully planned to limit disruption to passengers, including doing as much work as possible in this period to minimise any future closures. Network Rail has been working behind the scenes for over a year without disrupting passengers, however as the programme ramps up, there will be times when unfortunately, this is not possible.

Ed Akers, Principal Programme Sponsor for Network Rail, said: “Major work to upgrade the East Coast Main Line will mean significant changes to services this August Bank Holiday weekend.

“We are urging passengers not to travel on August 24/25 as there will be significant disruption, however if they absolutely must travel we would urge them to plan ahead as services will be extremely busy, you will need to change trains or use a bus replacement service and your journey will take longer.

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“We appreciate that this will impact on people, however this work is absolutely vital to make sure we continue to provide a railway which is fit for purpose and this upgrade will bring significant benefits to passengers once completed.”

A spokesperson on behalf of train operators along the route said: “We would like to take this opportunity to remind passengers of significant disruption to rail journeys over the upcoming Bank Holiday weekend as Network Rail continues work on a £1.2billion investment into the line.

“The work means no train services are able to run between Peterborough and London King’s Cross, Cambridge and London St Pancras International and between Stevenage and Moorgate via Hertford North, so passengers are urged not to travel if possible.

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“Other routes into London will operate but will be extremely busy. Once completed, the project will enable quicker and more reliable journeys, more frequent services and additional seats.”

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Sam Hewitt