UK: Network Rail has completed its remodelling of the approaches to London King’s Cross station as part of its £1·2bn East Coast Main Line upgrading programme.
Wholesale replacement of the track layout installed in the early 1970s has allowed the station platforms to be extended for longer trains. The third bore of the Gasworks Tunnel under the Regent’s Canal has been reopened to accommodate additional approach tracks and spread out the various crossovers, permitting trains to arrive and depart faster.
With the remodelling work extending more than 2 km from the terminus, the work included the replacement of more than 6 km of plain track and the laying of 30 new turnouts, along with 20 km of new overhead line and 50 signals. Closure of the station’s 1970s signalbox has seen control of the area transferred to the Rail Operating Centre in York.
Planning and delivery of the programme has been overseen by a cross-industry board including the infrastructure manager and train operating companies. The work began over the Christmas period in December 2020, when the fragile Victorian sewer which tunnels under the approach tracks was replaced. This was followed by a blockade of the eastern half of the station to permit the realigning and lengthening of platforms 1 to 6, along with the reopening of the third tunnel bore.
The eastern section reopened in April, when the western side including platforms 7 to 11 was taken out of use. One of the three suburban platforms was removed so that the other two could be lengthened to accommodate 12-car trains.
Inter-city and suburban services from the terminus were reinstated on June 7 following a weekend blockade to recommission the western side of the station. Service levels had been cut back during the complex programme, taking advantage of reduced travel demand as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
With the southern section of the ECML closed for the King’s Cross commissioning over the weekend of June 5-6, Network Rail and its contractors were able to remodel the tracks on the northern side of Peterborough station, where a new tunnel is being constructed to grade-separate freight trains using the route through Spalding and Lincoln that currently need to cross the East Coast Main Line at Werrington Junction. The dive-under is scheduled to open later this year.
‘This is a day to remember for everyone involved in this mammoth undertaking’, said Rob McIntosh, Managing Director for Network Rail’s Eastern Region. ‘To complete such an ambitious scheme, whilst at the same time working hard to keep disruption to a minimum, is testament to the dedication and teamwork of the many different professionals involved.’
‘Completion of the East Coast Upgrade programme will allow us to continue our transformation of the LNER route’, added the inter-city operator’s Managing Director David Horne. ‘We are looking forward to bringing the significant benefits to our customers and communities, transforming rail services with faster, more frequent and more reliable journeys between London, the north of England and Scotland.’