Network Rail reaches major milestone on £1.2billion East Coast Upgrade as all four tracks into King’s Cross are lifted for the first time in decades to allow sewer reconstruction.

  • Major progress was made at King’s Cross during a six-day closure over Christmas, including work to reconstruct Camden Sewer which runs beneath the tracks
  • Teams lifted all four tracks entering the station for the first time in over 40 years
  • The East Coast Upgrade will bring a more modern, reliable railway for passengers, improving journeys between London, the North of England and Scotland
  • Network Rail and train operators on the East Coast Main Line are thanking passengers for their patience following the six-day closure at King’s Cross

A central London sewer was diverted and rebuilt in just nine days during major Christmas works on the £1.2billion upgrade of the East Coast Main Line.

As part of the huge project, the way trains enter and exit King’s Cross station is being completely revamped- meaning major work on a sewer running beneath the tracks. 

A hugely complex engineering challenge meant teams had to remove all four tracks into the station for the first time in 40 years; dig out Camden Sewer from beneath them; divert, rebuild and strengthen the sewer; then relay the tracks in time for passenger services to resume on Monday morning.

3,200 litres of water per second passes through the sewer, the equivalent to around 12,800 five-minute showers. Teams also had to remove 850 tonnes of spoil from the sewer as part of the work.

Work was also carried out to install new overhead line equipment, renew some of the tracks around the station and install over 100 new pieces of signalling equipment, which will bring more reliable journeys for passengers.

The COVID-19 pandemic and government guidelines brought changes to the programme of work on the East Coast Upgrade. This complex part of the project was re-planned and completed on time, ready for a reduced service to run from Thursday 31 December and a full service to resume from Monday 4 January.

People should continue to follow the latest Government guidance by staying at home to help tackle the spread of COVID-19 and only travelling if they have to. 

Ed Akers, Principal Programme Sponsor for Network Rail’s East Coast Upgrade, said: “This was an incredible, industry-leading piece of work by Network Rail engineers and our suppliers.

“Digging out and rebuilding a major sewer would have been a complex engineering challenge at any time, even without all the additional problems of working during the pandemic. But it was delivered without a hitch and without causing any extra disruption for passengers.”

“I’d like to thank passengers for bearing with us while we completed the work – it will help us deliver a better and more reliable railway for you in the future.”

A spokesperson on behalf of train operators on the route said: “We’re thanking our passengers for their patience whilst major work was carried out at London King’s Cross over the festive period. The East Coast Upgrade will bring more reliable journeys for passengers on the East Coast Main Line.”

“People should continue to follow Government guidance and those who have to travel are strongly advised to check their journey in advance.”

The next vital stage of the project is to continue to build a new section of railway at Werrington, north of Peterborough. This work is taking place from Saturday 16 to Sunday 24 January. During the nine days, there will be limited services on the East Coast Main Line between Grantham and Peterborough. Passengers who have to travel are strongly advised to plan their journey in advance and allow more time. This part of the East Coast Upgrade will make space for additional passenger services.