Passengers reminded that upgrades for East Coast Digital Programme will affect Great Northern and Thameslink services on two weekends and two working days in February: ECDP team talk to passengers at King's Cross, Network Rail (1),

Monday 5 Feb 2024

Passengers reminded that upgrades for East Coast Digital Programme will affect Great Northern and Thameslink services on two weekends and two working days in February

Region & Route:
| Eastern: East Coast

Engineering work to install state-of-the-art digital signalling will close sections of the East Coast Main Line between London and Peterborough for two weekends and two working days in February.

Network Rail, Great Northern and Thameslink are reminding passengers to plan ahead and check before they travel as work continues on the billion-pound East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP) that will deliver more reliable, efficient and greener journeys in the future.

On Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 February, buses will replace Thameslink trains between Huntingdon and Peterborough. The work will mainly focus on upgrading switches & crossings, the specialist equipment used by trains to change tracks from one to another.

From Saturday 17 February until Tuesday 20 February, passengers are reminded that no Thameslink or Great Northern trains will operate between:

  • Potters Bar and Peterborough
  • Potters Bar and Royston
  • Hertford North and Stevenage

Additionally, on Sunday 18 February only, there will be no trains between King’s Cross and Stevenage, Royston and Peterborough.

An amended train service will run between:

  • King’s Cross and Potters Bar (Saturday 17, Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 only)
  • Moorgate and Potters Bar (Saturday 17, Monday 19 and Tuesday 20. On Sunday 18 this will run to/from Moorgate and Alexandra Palace)
  • Moorgate and Hertford North via Alexandra Palace
  • Royston and Cambridge/Kings Lynn

Additionally, on Saturday 17 February, Thameslink services from Brighton and Horsham will run to/from London St Pancras. On Tuesday 19 and 20, they will run to/from Finsbury Park and Brighton / Horsham.

An extremely limited rail replacement bus service will run between:

  • Peterborough and Bedford via Huntingdon and St Neots
  • Peterborough and Hitchin
  • Royston and Hitchin
  • Stevenage and Luton Airport Parkway via Hitchin
  • St Albans and Stevenage via Welwyn Garden City
  • Potters Bar and Hitchin
  • Hertford North and Stevenage

In addition to the above, on Sunday 18 only the following rail replacement services will run between:

  • Alexandra Palace and Welwyn Garden City via Cockfosters
  • Potters Bar and Cockfosters via Hadley Wood

During these four days, Network Rail will be commissioning the first section of the new digital signalling system between Welwyn and Hitchin, paving the way for train testing in the next phase of the East Coast Digital Programme.

The testing will ensure the system operates properly ahead of entry into service in the future.

Members of the ECDP team and representatives from train operators have been at King’s Cross today, talking to the public about the programme, what benefits it will bring, and handing out cards explaining how their journeys may be impacted over the coming weeks. Colleagues will also be at the station on Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 February.

Ricky Barsby, Head of Access and Integration for East Coast Digital Programme, said: “By commissioning the Welwyn and Hitchin section, it will enable us to test the new system with trains. This is a significant milestone of the East Coast Digital Programme.

“The additional work on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 February will also allow us to make vital improvements to the railway including upgrades to switches & crossings which will mean smoother and more reliable journeys for passengers.

“Members of the ECDP team are looking forward to interacting with passengers as they pass through King’s Cross from Monday 5 February. Colleagues will be on hand to talk about the programme, its benefits, and to provide service information page for journeys taking place during engineering work.

“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.”

Jenny Saunders, Customer Services Director at Govia Thameslink Railway, said: “We’d like to apologise to our Great Northern and Thameslink customers for the disruption these vital upgrade works will cause and thank you for your patience.

“The work during February half-term is taking place on two working days, in addition to a weekend, so we’re reminding customers to plan ahead and check your journey to see how it is affected.

“The extremely limited rail replacement bus service is likely to be very busy over the four-day period and we are encouraging customers to travel later in the week if they can.

“In particular, we’d urge people to work from home on Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 February if possible, to keep replacement bus services free for key workers.”

Notes to Editors

Interview Opportunity

Ricky Barsby, Head of Access & Integration, is available for interview at King's Cross station on Wednesday 7 February, and at Peterborough station on Thursday 8 February (before 1200).

To arrange an interview, please contact / 07561 874858. Interviews over Zoom or in other locations on the East Coast Main Line may also be requested and we will facilitate where possible.


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

Contact information

Passengers / community members
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03457 11 41 41

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Joshua Chapman
Media Relations Manager
Network Rail

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