Timeline

Take a look at the progress of this £1.2 billion programme of major improvements to key parts of the East Coast Main Line, improving journeys for passengers between London, Cambridgeshire, the North of England and Scotland.

2019

January

Work begins at Stevenage to construct a new 126m turnback platform and 2km of new track.

March

Construction work begins at Werrington to prepare the ground on the Grade Separation tunnel site.

June

We complete the diversion of Brook Drain river at Werrington to create enough room for the lines to and from Stamford to be moved across.

The newly aligned river is designed to help with local flooding issues and features riffles – shallow sections of water – and side pools, where aquatic wildlife can take refuge during storm surges.  Existing vegetation is transferred to help maintain a habitat for the rare Four Spotted moth on the riverbank.

July

Following months of preparation, major work starts at King’s Cross to replace track, signalling and overhead line equipment and to bring the disused third Gasworks Tunnel back into use.

August

The unique Newark flat crossing is replaced. The new bearers beneath the tracks, which keep the rails in place, are made of a recyclable polyurethane material which will last up to 40 years – twice as long as the previous wooden ones.

Illustrated image of railway workers

September

At Werrington, Cock Lane Footbridge is replaced with a wider bridge to accommodate the future position of the re-aligned Stamford Lines. The new footbridge includes ramps to make the it compliant with the Equality Act 2010.

December

The two Stamford lines at Werrington are repositioned. They’re moved 30 metres to the west to allow the new dive-under tunnel ramp to be constructed.

2020

February

Work begins at Werrington to bore two guide tunnels beneath the East Coast Main Line. Thanks to state of the art remote track monitoring equipment which constantly measures the position of tracks, this is able to be carried out unnoticed by the trains passing above.

March

Construction starts on the curved dive-under tunnel box structure at Werrington. 155m long, 9.5m wide and 5.1m high, with 1m thick concrete walls, it is built next to the East Coast Main Line in nine interconnected sections.

March

The start of the first national COVID-19 lockdown means work on all East Coast Upgrade sites is paused. Work restarts in line with government guidance on social distancing but the subsequent restrictions to working methods has an impact on our progress throughout the summer.

August

The Stevenage turnback platform opens, enabling trains from the Hertford North line to terminate and go back towards London without using up capacity on the existing tracks. This enables more services to run while improving resilience and reliability.

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August

The two guide tunnels at Werrington are completed. These will have glide plates fitted inside them, which will guide and steer the large tunnel box as it is pushed into position.

September

A new East Coast Upgrade schedule is put in place to deliver improvements for passengers as soon as possible, in spite of COVID-19. This is possible 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.

September

The 30 metre high lighting column which lit up the tracks at King’s Cross station is lifted out and removed by crane, to be replaced by smaller, more efficient structures.

Illustrated image of railway workers

December

A successful trial-push of the Werrington dive-under tunnel takes place. This short push allows the structure to be weighed, the centre of gravity to be identified and all equipment to be calibrated and checked.

December

For the first time in over 40 years, all four railway tracks entering King’s Cross station are removed over nine days at Christmas in order to excavate and completely replace a fragile Victorian sewer running beneath them, and relaid in time for passenger services to resume on Monday morning.

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2021

January

We achieve a UK first at Werrington by successfully pushing the 11,000 tonne, 155 metre long curved concrete tunnel into position beneath the East Coast Main Line.

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March

Work to replace and simplify the complex track layout and realign the platforms at King’s Cross station begins. Earlier work has enabled this to be done in stages, with half the station remaining open to enable trains to continue running throughout the work.

April

The third Gasworks Tunnel at King’s Cross re-opens for passenger trains following 20 months’ work to bring it back into use after 44 years. Ultimately this will provide six tracks in and out of the station, improving reliability and increasing capacity.

June

The work to remodel the tracks and platforms at London King’s Cross is completed, enabling quicker, more frequent, more reliable journeys.

July

Tracks are installed through the Werrington dive under tunnel, enabling the last phase of work on the Grade Separation to start.

November

The dive-under tunnel at Werrington will open, enabling slower freight trains to reach the line to and from Spalding without having to cross the East Coast Main Line, freeing up space for extra passenger services.

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