Plans to improve passenger services on the busy East Coast Main Line took a major step forward last week as the Secretary of State for Transport approved Network Rail’s application for a railway flyover at Shaftholme, to the north of Doncaster.
The scheme, known as the North Doncaster Chord, will take slow moving freight trains travelling from the Humber ports up and over the ECML rather than across and along it. Diverting freight traffic will free up capacity for much needed passenger services and enable additional freight to be transported by rail rather than road, which is critical in supporting economic growth and helping reduce CO2 emissions.
The £45m investment is part of a wider package of work scheduled between 2009 and 2014 to improve capacity and reliability on the ECML. The route-wide enhancements, worth approximately £600m, include the construction of new sections of track, platforms and stations, which will help deliver faster, more frequent services.
Phil Verster, route managing director at Network Rail, said: “Britain relies on rail and with demand for rail travel increasing it’s essential that we invest in the railway to provide better services for passengers with more trains, additional seats and improved punctuality.
The government’s decision to grant permission for the North Doncaster Chord is a significant step forward in improving capacity and reliability on the busy East Coast Main Line.”
Preparatory work for the new flyover is already underway. The scheme will be constructed by an alliance between network Rail and Morgan Sindall and is expected to be completed in early 2014.
Network Rail is reforming its infrastructure business with a greater focus on partnership with suppliers and a restructuring of the way the company delivers capital projects. The changes are a key part of the company’s plans to deliver efficiency savings helping to reduce the cost of running the railway
The ECML is one of the busiest railway lines in Britain. It is a vital transport link between London, the North East and Scotland and serves many commuter and regional passengers. A number of constraints along the route need to be addressed in order to deliver a better railway in the future. These will help open up the line for additional trains, improve journey times, reduce delays and provide more reliable services for passengers and freight operators.
As well as tackling a crucial bottleneck on the line, this project is part of Network Rail’s vision for freight that will allow many of the increasing numbers of freight containers coming into Britain’s ports to be transported by rail. The alternative would be to take the containers by road, adding to traffic congestion. Taking freight by rail rather than by road reduces CO2 emissions by 74%, helping the UK to improve its carbon footprint
The Secretary of State for Transport granted consent for the North Doncaster Chord on 16 October 2012. The scheme underwent 12 months of consultation before being submitted to the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) on 22 June 2011.
The North Doncaster Chord is part of a wider package of works scheduled between 2009 and 2014 to improve capacity and reliability of services on the ECML. The total investment for the route is worth approximately £600m and includes:
- GNGE route upgrade – improving ECML capacity by providing an alternative route for freight trains (via Spalding and Lincoln). Due to be completed in Spring 2014
- Hitchin – a new railway flyover. Currently under construction and due to be completed in Summer 2013
- Peterborough – improvements to the existing station. Due to be completed in Spring 2014
- Holgate – additional track to relieve a bottleneck at York Station. Completed Christmas 2011
- Kings Cross Station – a new platform (Platform 0). Completed in May 2010.