Your questions

Your questions about the East Coast Upgrade answered.

It is a £1.2bn infrastructure investment programme led by Network Rail that is due for completion ahead of the December timetable change in 2021.

Early improvement work has already taken place to get the line ready for the new train fleets, such as LNER’s Azuma.

The work that is taking place through to 2021 is focused on three key areas, London King’s Cross, Stevenage and Werrington.

You can find more detailed information about the programme of work:


This significant upgrade will allow more long-distance trains to run each hour, creating capacity for up to 10,000 extra seats a day on these services. It will also deliver faster journeys and improve reliability for customers.

This is important as the East Coast Main Line is a vital network that carries 20 million passengers every year, linking London to Edinburgh via cities such as Peterborough, York and Newcastle along the way. There are also direct links to many other cities such as Hull, Leeds, Sunderland and Cambridge.



The East Coast Main Line is one of the UK’s main railway arteries. Its London terminus  –  King’s Cross Station – is the 10th busiest station in the country, serving 38.5m passengers a year. With demand increasing, upgrades and improvements are essential. The Upgrade includes

  • New terminating platform built at Stevenage for London surburban services.
  • Dive-under constructed at Werrington, just north of Peterborough, to remove conflicts with freight services.
  • Complete renewal of the approach to London King’s Cross station.

Upgrades to the track layout and overhead line equipment in the approach to King’s Cross Station will:

  • Create a layout with the operational flexibility to run LNER’s new Azuma trains and Hull Trains’ Paragon fleet, with the benefits of increased speed and acceleration.
  • Separate long-distance services (LNER, Hull Trains and Grand Central) from the more frequent short distance commuter trains. (Great Northern, Thameslink).
  • Upgrade overhead line equipment further reducing the need for regular maintenance.
  • Simplify the track layout so that it can support the digital railway, helping to deliver more trains, reduced crowding, better connections and improved performance and safety for passengers.
  • Allow greater capacity for long-distance services in time for the new Open Access Operator from First Group to start running services between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh by the December 2021

Following the work done over the August bank holiday, weekend trains from London King’s Cross will be impacted due to planned improvements on the dates below. Passengers are advised to ‘check before you travel’.

  • Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 November 
  • Saturday 23 & Sunday 24 November 


As usual there will be no trains over the Christmas Day and Boxing Day holiday period.

Operators have limited access into King’s Cross at the start of service until 13.00 on Friday 27 December and they will be running a reduced timetable.

Work is also taking place over most weekends in January and February, which will mean there is a reduced service.

There will be no trains in and out of King’s Cross over the two weekends below:

  • Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 January
  • Saturday 29 February and Sunday 1 March.

There will also be five weekends when there is a reduced service on the East Coast Main Line. Passengers along the route are urged to check before travelling, and to allow additional time for their journey, as the trains will be busy and are likely to take longer than usual.

  • Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 January
  • Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 January
  • Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 January
  • Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 February
  • Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 February

Engineers are also working to replace rails on the Great Northern route through Moorgate to Stevenage. Passengers who use this route are advised to check before they travel on

  • Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 February
  • Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 February

You will be able to find out more detailed travel information for your journey from the individual company websites here.



There will be some planned disruption to train services as we undertake this essential work. Detailed information for customers is being provided at stations, via advertising, online and through the local media.

Trains and replacement bus times (where applicable) will be available in journey planners, such as the National Rail Enquiries website – www. and the individual train operator websites

The rail industry is working to package the projects, which are underway at several locations on the line, together to reduce the number of times that customers are disrupted and allow them to plan their journeys with confidence.






You can find more details of the work taking place at Newark, Stevenage and Werrington:


The largest element of the programme is the King’s Cross Track Improvement. Once completed in 2021 it will enable two more long distance trains to run each hour, improve reliability and reduce journey times for passengers.

The multi-million pound investment at King’s Cross will help to transform train travel in and out of the station by replacing 1.5 miles of track, signalling and overhead line equipment at the approach.

The work increases the number of tracks into the station from four to six, through the re-opening of a disused railway tunnel.

The current design of the track layout into King’s Cross station is outdated and has become harder to maintain. While the station itself was modernised in 2012, the existing track and signalling at the approach has not been improved since it was installed over 40 years ago.

In addition, the signalling system from King’s Cross to Peterborough is being transferred from the King’s Cross Signal Box to the Railway Operation Centre in York as part of Network Rail’s nationwide re-signalling programme. This will allow for the signal box at King’s Cross to be demolished, opening up the space for the new tracks into the re-opened tunnel.

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

We are using 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 are working closely with Transport Focus, the independent transport user watchdog, who are conducting regular customer surveys to monitor the effectiveness of our communications.