Engineers complete East Coast Digital Programme upgrades as further work planned for February: ECDP work being carried out over Christmas 2023, Network Rail (landscape)-2

Monday 15 Jan 2024

Engineers complete East Coast Digital Programme upgrades as further work planned for February

Region & Route:
| Eastern: East Coast

Network Rail teams have completed two weekends of upgrade work as part of the billion-pound East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP), with further work planned between London King’s Cross and Grantham in February.

Over the last two weekends, engineers have worked around the clock carrying out further work in preparation for digital, in-cab signalling to operate on the East Coast Main Line in 2025, resulting in more reliable, resilient, and greener journeys.

Further improvements to the track have been carried out, as well as adjustments to overhead line equipment, and testing of newly installed cabling and equipment that will make the new system function.

Across February, further ECDP upgrades will be carried resulting in some changes to services. On Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 February, work mainly additional to the ECDP, will be taking place between London and Peterborough.

As a result, LNER will be operating a reduced service starting and terminating at Grantham all weekend. Rail replacement coaches will run between Grantham and Huntingdon where customers can join a rail shuttle service to London King’s Cross.

Furthermore, from Saturday 17 February until Tuesday 20 February 2024, there will be no LNER trains to or from London King’s Cross. During this time, the signalling system between Welwyn and Hitchin will be commissioned, allowing for train testing as part of the next phase of the programme.

LNER will operate a reduced service starting and terminating at Peterborough. Rail replacement coaches will run between Peterborough and Bedford, where customers can join other operators’ services to London St Pancras.

On Saturday 10, Sunday 11, Saturday 17, and Sunday 18 February, Hull Trains will be running a reduced train service of two trains in each direction which will divert at Doncaster and terminate in London St Pancras.

However, on Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 February, Hull Trains will be terminating in Doncaster, with no services running to or from London, Grantham or Retford.

Lumo services will only operate between Edinburgh and Newcastle, with Grand Central operating no service on all of the affected days.

Ricky Barsby, Head of Access and Integration for East Coast Digital Programme, said: “This is a huge milestone for the project. Commissioning the Welwyn to Hitchin stretch will allow us to start testing the new system with trains and is testament to the incredible hard work and dedication of our engineers over the last year.

“We know this extended work will cause disruption to passengers and we are very sorry for that. We would encourage all passengers to check their journey via National Rail Enquiries before they travel and want to thank them for their patience and understanding.”

A spokesperson on behalf of LNER, Hull Trains, Lumo and Grand Central said: “Our teams will be working hard to keep passengers on the move and get them to their destination as quickly and as efficiently as they can during this work.

“All the latest travel information, including how passengers’ journeys may be affected, can be found on our websites, social media channels, or at our stations.”

Notes to Editors

Digital signalling

Digital signalling, using ETCS is a proven technology already in use in many countries in Europe and elsewhere. The ECDP will see the first introduction of ETCS to an intercity mainline in Great Britain, and will provide the foundation for the future expansion of digital signalling across the network.  ETCS is currently in use in the central London section of Thameslink and on the Cambrian Line in Wales, and now on the Northern City Line (Finsbury Park to Moorgate), in the first stage of ECDP.

More reliability: With signalling information being provided directly to the driver, via a screen in their cab, there will no longer be a need to maintain a large amount of lineside equipment involved with traditional ‘traffic light’ signals.  As a result, the amount of signalling-related engineering work will reduce in the future by around almost half. Additionally, trains are sometimes affected by signal failures; moving to a modern, digitally based system makes this less likely, potentially reducing thousands of hours of delays, and making train services more reliable.

More punctual services: Digital signalling gives train drivers continual information about the safe maximum speed for their train. It provides drivers with additional information about the route ahead, that today’s fixed ‘traffic light’ signals do not. This enables more ‘efficient’ operations, helping trains stay on time.  The new technology allows continuous communication between the trackside and onboard equipment. Signallers can continuously communicate with every train on the network and respond in real time using digital tools to help smooth the flow of trains and recover services more quickly after disruption.

Greener journeys: Digital signalling contributes to a greener railway. The East Coast Main Line is already electrified, and these upgrades will deliver a further 55,000 tonne reduction in carbon emissions over 60 years – the equivalent to over 65,000 one-way flights from London to New York, or over 2 million passenger train journeys from London to Edinburgh. This is because there is much less physical equipment to produce and maintain compared with what’s needed for ‘traffic light’ signals. The estimated whole life carbon saving over a 60-year period (the expected life span of a ‘traditional’ signalling system) is around 39%. The technology also allows gentler braking, meaning journeys are smoother and use less energy. Finally, a more reliable and punctual railway will encourage more people to choose rail over road and air, ultimately reducing transport emissions for the long-term.

For further information about the ECDP please visit

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Joshua Chapman
Media Relations Manager
Network Rail

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