Your questions

On this page find the answers to frequently asked questions…

Illustrated image of the East Coast upgrade with a question mark
The East Coast Upgrade Project

You can find more details of our work at Newark and Stevenage on our Key projects page.

Our work so far on the Power Supply Upgrade has already paved the way for the introduction of LNER’s new Azuma trains and Hull Trains’ new Paragon fleet.

Network Rail has upgraded the tracks, overhead wires and signalling on the approach to London King’s Cross station.

In addition, the track has been re-laid in a new layout which will improve journeys in and out of the station. A disused tunnel has been reopened, providing six tracks into the station instead of the current four. This will increase reliability and enable trains to arrive and leave more rapidly, helping to keep trains on time.

The signalling system from King’s Cross to Peterborough has been transferred from the King’s Cross Signal Box to the Railway Operation Centre in York.

In January 2021 we successfully pushed an 11,000 tonne, 155 metre long tunnel beneath the East Coast Main Line at Werrington, north of Peterborough. Once complete, this will enable long, slower-moving freight trains to dive under the main line, instead of crossing over it. This will create capacity for extra passenger services.

The East Coast Main Line is one of the UK’s vital rail routes. Carrying more than 20 million passengers a year, it connects East and West Yorkshire, the North of England and Scotland with London and the South East.

The £1.2 billion East Coast Upgrade investment programme included upgrading and expanding the rail infrastructure on the approaches to London King’s Cross station, as well as major projects at other key parts of the route. The work will mean more trains will be able to run between London, the North of England and Scotland.

To deliver this we needed to undertake major works, including at London King’s Cross station, where tracks and other infrastructure, which  were more than 40 years old, were upgraded to increase the network’s resilience and improve reliability for passengers.

The engineering work to improve the line has already been going on at night and over weekends for many months, but in the coming months we will be at the stage where we cannot complete the upgrades at King’s Cross and elsewhere on the line without carrying out some major work during weekdays too.

Network Rail has upgraded the tracks, overhead wires and signalling on the approach to London King’s Cross station.

In addition, the track has been re-laid in a new layout which will improve journeys in and out of the station. A disused tunnel has been reopened, providing six tracks into the station instead of the current four. This will increase reliability and enable trains to arrive and leave more rapidly, helping to keep trains on time.

At Werrington, just north of Peterborough, we’re building a tunnel and a new section of railway so slower freight trains can dive under the busy East Coast Main Line instead of having to cut across it. Once finished, it will free up space for extra passenger services.

We’re also boosting the power supply along the East Coast Main Line to enable additional faster, quieter and cleaner electric trains to run by carrying out work at a total of 46 sites along the whole route.

The East Coast Upgrade programme is made up of several different major projects along the route, which together will deliver the full benefits once all are complete.  The extra lines and improved track layout at King’s Cross will increase reliability of trains from Summer 2021, whilst further improvements will be delivered by different elements of the programme, such as the Power Supply Upgrade, and will add benefits from future timetable changes.

We’ll keep you informed as work progresses on the East Coast Upgrade.

Projects work best when the industry works together to look after our customers.

We used the lessons learned from many other successful projects, including the Brighton Main Line improvement, the Waterloo & South West upgrade, the Bath Spa station improvement, Nottingham station re-modelling, as well as the Birmingham New Street and Liverpool Lime Street station projects.

In addition, we’ve worked with Transport Focus, the independent transport user watchdog, who are conducting regular customer surveys to monitor the effectiveness of our communications.

COVID-19 and the East Coast Upgrade

The initial pausing of work, and the subsequent restrictions to working methods, during the first five months of the COVID-19 outbreak had an impact on our progress. This meant that the industry’s goal of starting the main work at King’s Cross station in late 2020 was not achievable.

However, due to the good progress that had already been made on preparation works, and the efforts of teams of planners and engineers from train operating companies, Network Rail and contractors working together, a new schedule was put in place to deliver improvements for passengers as soon as possible.

This vital upgrade is also about making sure that the network serves the interests of passengers now. It will improve reliability and will also enable us to develop the infrastructure so it is better able to meet future demand.

King’s Cross Station

The station concourse at King’s Cross was totally revamped in 2012. However, the track and signalling layout has not been upgraded since it was installed over 40 years ago.

This work has upgraded King’s Cross to improve the reliability of train services now and meet future passenger demands.

It simply isn’t feasible to close both the station building and the tracks at the same time, as it would prevent any passengers travelling in and out of King’s Cross.

By using a phased approach to the work, Network Rail and train operators kept passengers moving in and out of King’s Cross as much as possible.

Our partners