Ballast all the way – Network Rail is upgrading last section of 1970s slab track between London and Kentish Town this Christmas: Network Rail is upgrading last section of 1970’s slab track between London and Kentish Town this Christmas

Thursday 16 Dec 2021

Ballast all the way – Network Rail is upgrading last section of 1970s slab track between London and Kentish Town this Christmas

Region & Route:
| Eastern: East Midlands
  • Engineers will carry out final stage of work to upgrade 1970s track between Kentish Town and London St Pancras this Christmas and over New Year
  • Improvements will bring a more modern reliable railway for passengers and reduce delays
  • Reduced East Midlands Railway and Thameslink services from Monday 27 December until Tuesday 4 January – passengers reminded to plan ahead
  • Additional Midland Main Line upgrades on Christmas Day and Boxing Day when no timetabled trains are running

The last section of slab track on the line between London St Pancras and Kentish Town is being upgraded over the festive period to bring a more modern railway and boost reliability for passengers.

Between the early hours of Christmas Day and before the first service on Wednesday 5 January 2022, engineers will remove the older track – installed in 1979 – which has reinforced concrete slab underneath it. New ballasted track will then be installed with stones and sleepers to support it.

As well as bringing a more reliable railway, these improvements will help to reduce the amount of maintenance and future disruption required.

Network Rail is carrying out this major stage of the project on Christmas Day and Boxing Day when there are no timetabled services running on this part of the railway, to avoid disruption at busier times.

Due to the complexity of the project, some of the work will continue after Christmas. Trains will keep people moving, but reduced Thameslink and East Midlands Railway services will be in place between Monday 27 December and Tuesday 4 January.

Passengers travelling over Christmas and New Year are advised to check their journey via National Rail Enquiries or with their train operator and allow plenty of time. People are also reminded to continue following the latest Government guidance and wear a face covering on public transport, unless they are exempt.

Additional railway upgrades across the East Midlands area have been carefully planned to take place on Christmas Day and Boxing Day so the work does not impact on passengers. Teams will be installing overhead line equipment which will allow the Midland Main Line to be electrified up to Market Harborough.

Along with work to upgrade the power supply south of Bedford and work to transform an old power station, these improvements will allow more trains to run on the route and bring faster, more reliable services for passengers.

Gary Walsh, Route Director for Network Rail’s East Midlands route, said: “We’re taking the opportunity to make progress on the final stages of work to upgrade the track between London and Kentish Town over Christmas. The project will bring smoother, more reliable services and reduce delays – and the majority of it can only be done safely when no trains are running.

“As well as major work at Kentish Town and around Market Harborough which will transform journeys for passengers, our teams are spending Christmas carrying out improvements and maintenance work across the region to make sure services can run safely and reliably for years to come.

“Passengers planning to travel over the festive period are reminded to check their journey, plan ahead and allow plenty of time.”

Jenny Saunders, Customer Services Director for Thameslink and Great Northern, said: “The Kentish Town project is bringing our passengers a more modern, reliable railway. We’re able to run a reduced service so that people can still travel during the work, and we advise customers to check train times in advance.”

Neil Grabham, Customer Service Director for EMR said: “We know that many of our passengers will be using our train services to travel around and visit family and friends over the Christmas period.

“Any passengers planning on travelling between Monday 27th December and Tuesday 4th January are advised to check our website and plan their journey in advance, as we will be running a reduced EMR Intercity service to and from London St Pancras.

“We would like to thank passengers for their patience whilst these crucial engineering works are taking place.”


Notes to Editors

On Monday 27 December, EMR services will start and end at Luton until 1200. From after 12:00 on Monday 27 December to Monday 4 December, thee trains per hour will run. (One each to Corby, Nottingham and Sheffield).

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Kathryn Muffett
Media Relations Manager
Network Rail
01904 383180

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