Faster rail journeys between Doncaster and London have moved a step closer with the East Coast Main Line being upgraded ahead of the introduction of new trains.
The new, faster, more reliable and environmentally friendly Virgin Azuma trains are due to go into service next year and work has been taking place on the ECML ahead of their introduction.
Last Friday saw the completion of all critical enhancement work to the existing railway power supply on the section of route from London to Doncaster, enabling the introduction of the new trains from late December 2018.
This phase of work has included the commissioning of new substations and increasing the maximum power supply from the National Grid to the rail network at four locations between Doncaster and London.
The second major landmark, which is anticipated to be completed on 31 August, will see the completion of a project to lengthen platforms at Durham, Northallerton and Stevenage to cater for the longer trains.
This included extending platform 1 at Durham by 35 metres, lengthening platform 2 by 17 metres at Northallerton and also the extension of platforms 1-2 (18m) and 3-4 (11m) at Stevenage station.
Rob McIntosh, Managing Director of Network Rail’s London North Eastern and East Midlands route, said: “I’m delighted that the vital work on the East Coast Main Line is continuing to progress well and these two milestones represent significant steps towards preparing the railway for the new Azuma trains.
"The East Coast Main Line is a vital route, and the improved service that will follow the introduction of the new fleet will bring major benefits to the economics and communities our railway serves.”
David Horne, Managing Director of Virgin Trains East Coast, said: “Our Virgin Azuma trains, which will be introduced from next year, will help us to transform the customer experience, creating more capacity, and faster and more comfortable journeys on our east coast route. That transformation hinges on the successful delivery of all the planned infrastructure work needed for Azuma and the new timetable. This is an important step on that journey."
Rob Cairns, Route Delivery Director for Network Rail, said: “This is a tremendous achievement by all those involved with the project, enabling entry into service of the enhanced power supply, which in turn will facilitate the introduction of the new trains.”