Major rail engineering work on weekdays due to change in travel patterns

Major rail engineering work will take place on two weekdays this month in a trial responding to a change in travel patterns.

No long-distance services will run on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) to or from London King’s Cross between Saturday February 17 and Tuesday February 20, Network Rail said.

Maintenance and upgrade work requiring line closures is traditionally restricted to weekends and bank holidays to minimise the number of passengers affected, causing frustration for many people planning day trips and holidays.

But this policy has been relaxed on the ECML as the growth in both home working and leisure travel – since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and the end of lockdown restrictions respectively – mean passenger numbers on the line on weekdays and weekends are similar.

Engineering work affecting London King’s Cross is also taking place on Saturday February 10 and Sunday February 11.

Network Rail said doing the work over two weekends and two weekdays avoids disrupting up to five consecutive weekends.

The project is part of a £1 billion scheme to upgrade and digitise signalling.

The system being introduced is designed to be more reliable and enable trains to run closer together safely, increasing capacity.

Ricky Barsby, head of access and integration for Network Rail’s East Coast Digital Programme, said this month’s engineering work at the southern end of the ECML is “a significant milestone” for the project and will mean “smoother and more reliable journeys for passengers”.

He added: “We want to thank passengers for their patience and understanding ahead of this essential work and are reminding passengers to check their journey before they travel via National Rail Enquiries or through their train operator.”

Affected operators LNER, Hull Trains, Lumo and Grand Central said in a joint statement: “Our teams will be working extremely hard to ensure passengers reach their destination as quickly as possible while these upgrades are carried out.

“The latest travel information can be found on our websites and on our social media platforms and we advise passengers to plan ahead and check before they travel.”