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The East Coast Upgrade

Network Rail have started a multi-million pound programme to upgrade the East Coast Main Line. The programme includes:

  • Renewing track, signalling and overhead wire equipment on the approach to London Kings Cross station. The track is being re-laid in a new layout, with a disused tunnel being reopened, allowing for six tracks into the station instead of the current four.
  • A new platform is being built at Stevenage for the Hertford North-Stevenage trains (buses are replacing trains between Watton-at-Stone and Stevenage while construction takes place)
  • Relocating the control of signalling to Network Rail's operating centre in York
  • Further improvement works are taking place further north of Peterborough

You can find out more about this programme at eastcoastupgrade.co.uk 

East Coast Upgrade project

We’d like to know your views. Please fill in in a short survey.

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How these works will affect your train service

During the upgrade, there will need to be some temporary changes to train services. We’ll ensure you are kept informed of any planned alterations.

Significant changes coming up are as follows:  

Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 August (Bank holiday weekend)

Over the bank holiday weekend, track work will be taking place outside King's Cross station and between St Neots and Peterborough. Alongside these works, the signalling system will be turned off and part of the control relocated to Network Rail's operating centre in York meaning no trains will be able to run.

  • No Great Northern or Thameslink services between London King’s Cross / London St Pancras and Peterborough
  • No Great Northern or Thameslink services between London King’s Cross / London St Pancras and Cambridge
  • No Great Northern service between Moorgate and Welwyn Garden City / Hertford North/Watton-at-Stone)
  • We’re strongly advising people NOT TO TRAVEL on these dates
  • For essential travel we’ll be providing a limited replacement bus service as shown on the map below
  • Tickets will be valid on the alternative bus and rail routes shown on the map towards the bottom of the page
  • London Kings Cross station is CLOSED. LNER trains will not run between Peterborough, Stevenage and London
  • Great Northern trains WILL run between Cambridge and King's Lynn

Most replacement buses are showing in journey planners however some are still be updated. Click here to plan your journey outside London zones (shown as blue on the map - download map) To plan a journey within London zones (shown as red on the map below) where ticket acceptance is in place use tfl.gov.uk

Bank holiday Monday 26 August

  • Reduced service on Great Northern & Thameslink services to/from London King’s Cross
  • Reduced service on Great Northern services to/from Moorgate
  • Reduced service on Thameslink services to/from St Pancras
  • LNER, Hull Trains and Grand Central are also affected with reduced/retimed services

Journey planners for this date are fully updated. Click here to plan your journey

Frequently asked questions

What is the East Coast Upgrade Project?

Network Rail’s East Coast Upgrade is a £1.2 billion plan that covers a number of different improvements along the the East Coast Main Line, a key rail route carrying over 20 million passengers a year, connecting London King’s Cross and Edinburgh via Peterborough, Doncaster, York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. For more information about the work being carried out visit eastcoastupgrade.co.uk.

How does the East Coast Upgrade affect Great Northern and Thameslink services?

The work includes a major upgrade at King’s Cross station, upgrading power supplies, construction of almost 2km of new railway line and a new Platform 5 at Stevenage (removing conflict between Hertford North line trains and other services) and transfer of the signalling to be controlled from the York Rail Operations Centre instead of King’s Cross signal box.

Wasn’t King’s Cross finished a few years ago?

The station building itself was modernised and revamped in 2012, but the existing track and signalling layout has not been improved since it was installed over 40 years ago and is in need of upgrading to meet future passenger demands. Passenger numbers are expected to increase by 30% by 2023. The East Coast Upgrade involves creating a new, simpler, layout at King’s Cross with additional tracks allowing an increase in capacity.

What’s happening on the Moorgate line?

The Moorgate line signalling is being transferred to York as part of the East Coast upgrade. There is also a separate project to renovate the stations, much of which has already taken place, and to clean the tunnels. This will require line closures which, although not part of the East Coast Upgrade, will affect many of the same passengers during the same time period.

How are passengers affected by the construction of Stevenage Platform 5?

There are currently no trains for most of the day on Mondays to Fridays between Watton-at-Stone and Stevenage. Buses are replacing these services until May 2020. More details are available on our Great Northern information page.

How are passengers affected on August Bank Holiday weekend Saturday 24 to Monday 26 August 2019?

On Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 August there are NO TRAINS between Peterborough or Cambridge and King’s Cross, St Pancras or Moorgate, including the Hertford North branch. All train operators are advising passengers NOT TO TRAVEL in the affected area on these two days.

On Monday 26 August Thameslink and Great Northern will be running a near-normal service. LNER, Hull Trains and Grand Central are affected by work at Newark with a very reduced service. They are advising their passengers to travel either Friday or Tuesday if possible.

You’re saying ‘Do Not Travel’ but what if I have to travel? What alternatives will there be?

Our over-riding message is to avoid travel on 24 and 25 August if you can. But for essential journeys we’re aiming to minimise disruption through a variety of alternative rail, bus and car parking options where this is practical.

How much longer will journeys take?

It depends on the journey. Detailed timetables for all the alternative routes are now available in Journey Planners.

How will you ensure replacement buses run reliably?

During the recent Brighton Main Line blockade we successfully ran the biggest bus replacement operation ever seen in Britain, with nearly 250 vehicles and over 500 drivers needed each day. The experience we gained is being used to help ensure the August Bank Holiday closure runs successfully.

What routes will replacement buses run? - MAP

On 24 and 25 August there will be 11 different routes running as shown below. All services will run every 30 minutes between 0500 and 2300 only. There are no early morning or late night buses. The only exception is Peterborough to Bedford which, at certain times, will run up to every 15 minutes, with some earlier and later journeys.

Download the map (pdf)

Will tickets be valid on alternative routes?

Yes. Tickets will be valid on all the alternative routes shown on the diagram above. In addition, in the London area tickets will be valid via any reasonable route on Transport for London services (London Buses, London Underground and London Overground).

Will alternative routes be busy?

Yes. We expect the Bedford to St Pancras and Cambridge to Liverpool Street lines, in particular, to be very busy. Please avoid travelling if you possibly can.

Will it affect journeys to Gatwick, Luton or other airports?

Yes. We would advise passengers to check revised times and allow extra time to ensure no missed flights!

Will services be affected on the night of Friday 23rd?

Yes. Last trains will run earlier, with regular rail replacement bus services covering the last trains until close of service. Journey Planners are fully updated.

Will there be non-stop buses to or from London?

No. The traffic in and around London makes it impractical to run replacement buses in this area. We will concentrate on running buses to and from key hub stations to alternative rail or tube lines into London.

Why are you not providing replacement buses south of Hadley Wood or Enfield Chase?

Customers at these stations have alternative TfL bus, underground and rail routes. The Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria lines, as well as London Overground services, all run close by most of the affected stations. We believe this is a better solution for those passengers than trying to add additional traffic into the congested north London area.

Will the alternative routes allow bikes?

Bikes can be taken on alternative rail routes (subject to normal time restrictions) but, apart from fold-up bikes, they can’t be taken on replacement buses.

What happens with lost property left on buses?

Bus drivers are instructed to hand it to station staff at the end of each trip, after which normal procedures apply.

What help will there be for passengers with accessibility needs?

As with all passengers, our recommendation is DO NOT TRAVEL unless it is essential.

Due to the large number of vehicles required, and a shortage of accessible vehicles in the geographical area affected, we can’t supply as many accessible buses as we would like for 24 and 25 August. We therefore recommend passengers let us know 24 hours before they plan to travel so we can make suitable provision.

Passengers should fill in our assistance booking form online

Email us on: myjourney@greatnorthernrail.com
Call us on: 0800 058 2844 (information may be recorded)
Textphone: 0800 138 1018 SMS Text: 07860 034 269*

Our assisted travel helpline is open every day from 0700 to 2200, except on Christmas Day.

Will station car parks be affected on 24 and 25 August?

Car parking at some stations may not be available during engineering works. We try to keep car parks open but where we are running a rail replacement bus service we sometimes have to close part or all of the car parks so that there is enough space to operate the buses safely. There may also be occasions where our engineers need space in car parks for access to the tracks or to store equipment.

On 24 and 25 August we will need to close part of the car park at the following stations:

  • Bedford
  • St Neots
  • Hitchin
  • Royston
  • Baldock

Will there be any free car parking at alternative route stations?

No. Customers from Great Northern stations who hold monthly or longer Car Park season tickets, or Premier Parking customers, can park at Bedford line car parks at no extra charge. Other customers who choose to drive to alternative car parks must pay the appropriate day parking rate for that car park.

Will other train company Advance tickets still be available?

Generally yes, except where other operators’ services are also disrupted. Passengers using Great Northern or Thameslink services to connect with the timed train of another operator on their ticket should travel earlier to ensure they meet their connection.

What about tickets on The Key?

If you hold an actual Great Northern or Thameslink ticket on a Key Smartcard you will be able to use other operators’ services (except TfL) in just the same way as a passenger who holds a paper ticket.

If you have to buy another ticket to cover your journey, then please contact our Customer Relations team for a refund, providing confirmation of your original ticket and the new ticket you have purchased.

KeyGo can NOT be used on alternative routes. You should buy a paper ticket to ensure you pay the correct fare for the journey you make.

Can I claim compensation for any delays on 24 and 25 August?

As with all planned engineering work, Delay Repay compensation claims are based on the revised timetable, including replacement bus services, as advertised in Journey Planners. We can not provide any further compensation in lieu of additional journey times or reduced service levels. This is in accordance with Section 27 of the National Rail Conditions Of Travel.

Is there more work to come?

Yes. There is significant further work planned as part of the East Coast Upgrade.

Later in 2019, 2020 and 2021
Full details for this period are still being finalised but there will be further longer packages of work, including line closures, which will have a big impact on our services.

The rail industry is working together to package the projects to reduce the number of times that passengers are disrupted and allow them to plan their journeys with confidence.

Dates and more details will be announced later in 2019. Closures will be advertised well in advance to allow passengers to plan ahead. Keep an eye on eastcoastupgrade.co.uk.

How are dates chosen?

We know that closing the railway to carry out improvement work has a big impact on passengers’ lives, which is why we work hard with Network Rail and other train companies to plan the work in a way that minimises overall disruption as much as possible. We hope that by providing several months’ notice people will be able to make informed choices and be more flexible with their travel plans.

All dates are chosen, as far as possible, to avoid major events.

Why not delay the works indefinitely?

This work is designed to provide a better, more reliable service for passengers on one of the busiest sections of railway in the country. Delaying the works would mean passengers having to wait longer for reliability improvements and an increased risk of delays and disruption as ageing infrastructure continued to deteriorate.

How can I keep up to date with what is going on?