A project to upgrade the power supply on the East Coast Main Line reached its regulated milestone set by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) on Friday 25 August.

The East Coast Main Line (ECML) power supply upgrade (PSU) project paves the way for the new InterCity Express Programme (IEP) Class 800 and 801 trains. The trains, which will be part of Virgin Trains East Coast’s new ‘Azuma’ fleet, will offer passengers faster, more reliable and more frequent services when they are introduced to the network in 2018.


On time, within budget


The milestone sees the completion of all critical works required to upgrade the existing traction power supply on the route between Wood Green, London and Bawtry, Doncaster, enabling the introduction of the new IEP trains.

The works have been delivered by the Rail Electrification Alliance – a partnership of Network Rail, Jacobs, J Murphy and Sons, Siemens, TSP Projects and VolkerRail. Rod Moorcroft, director of the Alliance, said: “This is a fantastic achievement by the Alliance. Just over two years ago, we signed up to deliver this key milestone and despite significant challenges along the way, the Alliance has worked collaboratively with many stakeholders to achieve this milestone, to time and within its original authorised budget.”

The first stage of the project was completed in March 2016, through a series of ‘firm service capacity’ upgrades – increasing the maximum power supply from the National Grid to the rail network at four locations: Ferme Park, Little Barford, Nene and Welwyn.


Feeding power


Now the second stage is complete, meeting the ORR milestone, with works including the commissioning of new substations at Coreys Mill, Welwyn and Langley towards the end of 2016, Essendine and Stoke Rochford in April/May 2017 and most recently, Hitchin in mid-August 2017, as well as the entry into service of a new 400kv National Grid substation at Essendine, feeding power to the railway via a new lineside substation.

Additional works in support of the milestone have included the removal of booster transformers, installation of new telecommunications fibre cabling in support of Network Rail’s supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system and in conjunction with National Grid, the upgrade of the power supply at Coreys Mill.

Works will continue into early 2019 to complete all associated works along the route, improving resilience and reliability.


Platform extensions


A second major landmark for the East Coast Main Line upgrade work is expected to be reached on 31 August, with the completion of a project to lengthen platforms at Durham, Northallerton and Stevenage, in direct support of the introduction of the longer IEP trains.

Rob Cairns, ECML route delivery director, added: “Throughout every stage, it’s been clear that safety and delivering for our customers have been at the top of everyone’s priorities. It’s a fantastic achievement.”