Important work on the £1.2bn East Coast Upgrade has now had more dates confirmed. Once complete, reliability and punctuality will be improved for passengers on the East Coast Main Line.
A major part of the project includes replacing track, and the track layout on the approach to London King’s Cross, which is now nearly 50 years old. This work requires the temporary closure of tracks and platforms at King’s Cross at different times over a three month period.
This partial closure is scheduled to take place between Monday 1 March and Friday 4 June 2021. Additionally, closures are planned at Christmas and February 26, 27 and 28; April 23, 24, 25, and June 5 and 6.
This means that between the 1st March to 4th June 2021, there will be changes to LNER, Great Northern, Thameslink, Hull Trains and Grand Central services with a reduced peak service in and out on London King’s Cross.
Off-peak train services will be less impacted, with passengers being encouraged to travel at less busy times.
The King’s Cross work will include a re-opening of a third tunnel, which was closed in the 1970s, which will create six tracks into the station, instead of the four currently in operation.
A new tunnel and nearly 2 miles of new track are being built by Network Rail at Werrington, north of Peterborough so that freight trains will no longer cut across the East Coast Main Line. This means that a nine-day period will see disruption between 16 and 24 January 2021, with reduced long-distance services and longer journey times.
Thameslink services to St Pancras International and Great Northern services to Moorgate will operate to a normal timetable.
Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “The £1.2 billion East Coast Upgrade programme is vital to improve the service on the railway for tens of thousands of passengers who travel on the line.
“We know these works will cause some disruption and inconvenience, and apologise to those affected, but we also know that this short-term pain will deliver long-term gain for passengers along the entire route.
“The King’s Cross work will cut congestion and speed up arrivals and departures every day, when it’s complete. And that’s why we are grateful to everyone for their patience while these vital works are done.”
Ed Akers, Principal Programme Sponsor for Network Rail said: “The East Coast Upgrade is going to deliver massive benefits for reliability and train capacity for passengers – but we can’t deliver the work without some short-term disruption.
“Restricting access to such a key station is a tremendously complex job of planning and preparation and it’s a tribute to the industry that we have managed to schedule this work despite all the other pressures caused by the pandemic.
“We want to deliver this vital job with as little disruption as possible, but we know it’s going to have an impact on people going about their daily lives. I’m sorry about that, but I promise it will be worth it in the long run and I’d like to thank passengers for bearing with us while we work.”
David Horne, Managing Director of London North Eastern Railway (LNER) said: “The East Coast Upgrade is an essential part of the long-term transformation of rail services, that will improve reliability for our passengers. We are working closely with other operators to minimise the impact of the disruption on customers as Network Rail delivers this vital project.”
Steve White, Chief Operating Officer of Govia Thameslink Railway said: “We welcome this investment and are working closely with our partners at Network Rail, and other operators, to ensure our that customers can continue to travel during these essential works. The ambition is to ensure more trains run on time every day because we understand that performance is the highest priority for our customers.”
Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus said: “Passengers will welcome these improvements, but not the potential disruption to journeys needed to deliver them. The industry must work together so that throughout the works next year there are enough trains, of sufficient length, to allow for any social distancing that is required.
“We will work with the industry to help it ensure information is crystal clear and passengers know well in advance what the timetable is. The temporary timetable also needs to run reliably. Poor punctuality on top of a reduced timetable will not be welcome.”
More on the detailed key dates for the work can be found on the Network Rail website by clicking here.
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