Work on the £1bn East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP) will take place for two weekends and two working days later this month. More reliable, efficient and greener services are planned in the future, but for present-day travellers Network Rail, Great Northern and Thameslink are all reminding passengers to plan ahead and check their journeys before setting off.
The first section of the new digital signalling system will be commissioned by Network Rail during the four days when the work will be taking place.
The first section, between Welwyn and Hitchin, will pave the way for train testing, which is scheduled in the next phase of the ECDP.
During the disruption, buses will replace trains on a number of routes and some services will terminate short of their usual destination.
Buses are scheduled to replace Thameslink trains between Huntingdon and Peterborough on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 February. The work due to take place will see switches and crossings upgraded between the two stations.
Neither Thameslink nor Great Northern trains will run between Potters Bar and both Peterborough and Royston as well as between Hertford North and Stevenage between Saturday 17 and Tuesday 20 February. On Sunday 18 February, there will be no trains between London King's Cross and Stevenage, Royston and Peterborough,
There will be an amended train service between London King's Cross and Potters Bar and between Moorgate and Potters Bar on Saturday 17, Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 February. On Sunday 18 February, trains will only run between Moorgate and Potters Bar.
Amended services will also operate between Moorgate and Hertford North via Alexandra Palace and well as between Royston and both Cambridge and King's Lynn.
Thameslink services from Brighton and Horsham on Saturday 17 February will start and finish at London St Pancras. On Monday and Tuesday 19 and 20 February, they will operate between Finsbury Park and both Brighton and Horsham.
An extremely limited rail replacement bus service will run between Peterborough and Bedford via Huntingdon, St Neots and Hitchin, Stevenage and Hertford North as well as St Albans via Welwyn Garden City and Luton Airport Parkway via Hitchin and between Hitchin and Royston and Potters Bar.
Ricky Barsby, ECDP Head of Access and Integration, said: “By commissioning the Welwyn and Hitchin section, it will enable us to test the new system with trains. This is a significant milestone of the East Coast Digital Programme. The additional work on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 February will also allow us to make vital improvements to the railway including upgrades to switches and crossings which will mean smoother and more reliable journeys for passengers.
“Members of the ECDP team are looking forward to interacting with passengers as they pass through King's Cross from Monday 5 February. Colleagues will be on hand to talk about the programme, its benefits, and to provide service information page for journeys taking place during engineering work. We want to thank passengers for their patience and understanding ahead of this essential work and are reminding passengers to check their journey before they travel via National Rail Enquiries or through their train operator.”
Jenny Saunders, Customer Services Director at Govia Thameslink Railway, added: “We'd like to apologise to our Great Northern and Thameslink customers for the disruption these vital upgrade works will cause and thank you for your patience. The work during February half-term is taking place on two working days, in addition to a weekend, so we're reminding customers to plan ahead and check your journey to see how it is affected.
“The extremely limited rail replacement bus service is likely to be very busy over the four-day period and we are encouraging customers to travel later in the week if they can. In particular, we'd urge people to work from home on Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 February if possible, to keep replacement bus services free for key workers.”