Early January weekend work will enable introduction of digital signalling to East Coast Main Line

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Over the weekend of 7 and 8 January, a new signalling system is being tested in the Wood Green-New Barnet area of North London, preparing the area for digital signalling while reducing faults involved with the current system.

New lineside equipment and technology is also being installed between Welwyn Garden City and Hitchin, preparing the way for this section to become the first part of the East Coast Main Line to operate with digital signalling.

The work is taking place as part of the Government-funded transformational East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP), aimed at boosting reliability and allowing faster recovery from disruption, enabling a better and more punctual, service for passengers. 

The transformational programme will see state-of the art digital signalling introduced, providing continuous, real-time information to the driver’s cab.

On 7 and 8 January, no train services will run between St Neots (south of Peterborough), Royston and London.​

A reduced LNER service will start and terminate at St Neots or Peterborough, with rail replacement coaches between St Neots and Bedford where passengers can connect to Thameslink services to or from London St Pancras.

Hull Trains will operate a reduced service via the Midland Main Line into London St Pancras with extended journey times.​

Thameslink will operate a limited shuttle service between Peterborough and St Neots, and Great Northern will run trains between Royston, Cambridge, Ely and Kings Lynn. Rail replacement bus services will serve intermediate stations between St Neots, Royston and Finsbury Park. ​

For customers wishing to travel to London, there will be rail replacement bus services from selected Great Northern stations across to the Midland Main Line to connect into Thameslink services from Bedford to London St Pancras.  No Great Northern services will operate on the Hertford branch between Stevenage and Alexandra Palace, with stations being served by rail replacement bus services.  There will also be no services on the Moorgate branch. ​

There will be a similar level of disruption to services over the weekend of February 17/18 in what will be the only other significant weekend of ECDP related disruption in the first half of 2023.  It is expected that the first trains to operate on the East Coast Main Line using digital signalling technology will run in 2025.

Ed Akers, principal programme sponsor, Network Rail, said: “The work taking place in early January is an essential early stage towards delivering the transformation of a digitally signalled East Coast Main Line.   This will create better journeys on a state of the art, reliable railway, whilst reducing emissions and providing further safety protection.

“We are sorry for the disruption that this will cause passengers, and I urge people to plan ahead and check before you travel”.

Image credit: Network Rail

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