East Coast passengers set to benefit from rail improvements

Passengers are set to benefit from a £multi-million programme of improvements to boost performance on the East Coast Main Line (ECML).

The joint industry plan recognises that performance has not been at the high level which passengers rightly expect and looks to address factors such as severe weather, asset failure, fleet reliability, cable theft and fatalities, all of which have had an adverse impact on performance on the route during the last 12 months.

Richard Lungmuss, Route Director for Network Rail – London North Eastern said:

“Passengers rightly demand reliable rail services day in, day out. As such, the improvement of performance on the ECML is a key priority for Network Rail, with an intensive programme of measures now in place to directly address the cause of delays and drive up reliability.

“Where we are the victim of external factors, we are seeking to boost our defences and improve response times.

“Where issues are caused by asset failure, we are using targeted investment and the most modern technology to prevent issues arising where possible and to fix them swiftly and fully where necessary.”

Initiatives already introduced include:

  • Intelligent Infrastructure programme – a national £40 million initiative using technology, business process and information systems to detect and rectify infrastructure faults. Progressively commissioned on ECML since January, these remote condition monitoring systems have already saved an estimated 5,000 delay minutes, with rollout ongoing
  • The specific targeting of ‘vulnerable’ infrastructure equipment (e.g. points, overhead line equipment, signaling)
  • The use of new technology such as thermal imaging cameras for early identification and rectification of faults
  • An action plan to tackle severe weather and its impact on the railway

Network Rail has also launched a dedicated campaign with the British Transport Police to crackdown on cable theft, targeting hotspot locations, whilst also actively working alongside the Samaritans to reduce the number of suicides on the railway by 20% in the next four years.

In the longer term, Network Rail is investing over £1 billion on a programme of major works along the ECML.

Highlights include the transformation of Edinburgh Waverley, improvements at York Holgate with an additional connection into platform 11, the Doncaster north chord flyover, upgrade of the Great Northern/Great Eastern Joint Line, station improvements at Peterborough, capacity improvements at Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace, a new single track electrified route over the ECML at Hitchin and the redevelopment of Kings Cross.

Welcoming the programme of performance improvements, East Coast Managing Director Karen Boswell said:

“The improvements promised by this investment cannot come soon enough. Four fifths of all delays to East Coast services are caused by external factors beyond our control as train operators, including problems with signals, track and overhead power lines.

“There is still much to do to improve the reliability of our services.

“The link between service reliability and customer satisfaction is clearly understood. We look forward to early progress on infrastructure improvements which will help us to provide a punctual railway, day after day.”

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